Seniors of Costa Rica Are Assisted by Government and Locals Alike


Thanks to the help that she receives, 99-year-old Alicia Zuniga probably would be sitting in a chair, looking out the window of a nursing home, away from family and community.

This poor elderly woman would have no way to pay her food, diapers or a decent area to live.

However, Zuniga lives in a house with privacy and warmth – appropriate for her. She lives in the home of her daughter Virginia Ramirez, who is responsible for bathing her, cook and even change her diaper.

“I do not feel good in a nursing home, i do not like it, I prefer to be at home where I can live with my daughter.” said the old woman.

This scenario is possible because the modality of community care, driven by the Government, which promotes the care of older adults without having them abandoned.

Minister of Welfare and Family, Fernando Marin said, “Before we had no other alternative besides a nursing home or day center. The network allows us to support older adults so they can stay at home with the help of the community or family. ”

This is the Progressive Care Network for Integrated Care for Older Persons. This project responded to 3,528 people, without having to remove them from their homes in 2011.

The system is used as a platform for social welfare organizations with experience in caring for the elderly, as well as some municipalities.

These resources are channeled through the Development Fund Family Allowances (FODESAF), whose contributions for 2011 and 2012 were around ¢ 2,500 million annually. For 2013 it will reach ¢5,000 million.

The organizations are responsible for coordinating with institutions like the Ministry of Health and the Social Security Fund (CCSS) and to promote the participation of relatives and neighbors.

“This is not to give houses to everyone but we can coordinate to attend to their needs on a one to one basis. The important thing is that the community help.” said Marin.

According to the executive director of the National Council for Older Persons (CONAPAM), Emiliana Rivera, the response has been more than favorable.

“Communities have much solidarity. In Pococí for example, a volunteer network offered to do a group home where there are four gentlemen who were abandoned in the hospital.” said Rivera.

In other places, residents cook for the elderly people and give them good company from being lonely. Even some grocery and hardware stores of the area offered to donate food and supplies.

To Zuniga and Ramirez, they are residents of Santo Domingo de Heredia who had help through Mary Foundation, which they remodeled their houses, gave them a monthly allowance and delivered food.

Meanwhile, for Socorro Abarca, 84, the support for her is the delivery of milk, diapers, the loan of a bed and improvements in her room.

“At home I feel more confident.” she expressed.

Lourdes Sanchez, manager of the Mary Foundation said that home care was already being done on a microscale.

“This network came to give a great help because we could increase visits, pay attention to people at home and take care of their diet.” concluded Sanchez.

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