THE VALUES OF SOCIAL ECONOMY AND THE CULTURE OF CARE: THE ELDERLY IN EXTREMADURA
Extremadura is immersed in a demographic process where the weight in the population pyramid of people over 65 years of age is increasing. The Aging Index has continued to increase since the early 1980s, from 49.20 to 144.39 in 2020, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics. We can also point out that in 61.6% of the Extremaduran municipalities at least one in four inhabitants is 65 years of age or older in 2018, as pointed out by IEEX. To this data we must add other sociodemographic characteristics such as low population density, geographical dispersion of municipalities and youth emigration, which pose a significant challenge when developing actions for the care of the elderly.
The principles expressed in article 4 of the Ley de Economía Social (2011) fit perfectly into a model of caring for the elderly in solidarity and committed, which not only meets the well-being of the elderly, but also contemplates the rights of caregivers. In addition, there is an explicit commitment to local development by these entities, which favors the rooting of people to the territory, so necessary in Extremadura.
In an ageing demographic context, and where there is an urgent need to implement strategies against depopulation, the development of a care economy, based on principles of solidarity and sustainability, such as those of the social economy, these type of actions can have a positive impact not only on local economies but also on the reconstruction of the social fabric, and the reversal of ageing indexes by attracting people to embark on this sector whose market niche is a clear reality.
We propose that, from the Academy, the public administrations and the social economy entities create spaces of dialogue for the development of a regional strategy of care from the values of the social economy, complementing the public sector and promoting the development of cooperatives, foundations, insertion companies, special employment centers, etc., to act in the rural world of the region.
The values of the social economy provide us with the opportunity to promote a culture of care for the elderly in a different way in Extremadura based on solidarity. On the principles of social cohesion, inclusion, the rights of the elderly, local development and sustainability, a multitude of activities can be developed, and even more so if the care goes beyond the clinical sphere and is combined with the cultural and creative industries. We think that there is a whole field, very interesting to improve the quality of life of our elderly, where different artistic disciplines or the knowledge of the heritage can intervene. There are already some experiences of art therapy or volunteering in relation to the historical and artistic heritage.
So, with all the above mentioned, in Extremadura, from the perspective of the values of the social economy, we think that there may be an interesting opportunity to create an inclusive and solidary culture of care. Moreover, there is a whole field that from the creative industries can greatly enrich the welfare of the elderly. To do this, we must think of spaces for meeting and dialogue that allow the actors involved to coordinate a common strategy.
This research has been funded by the Interreg V-A Spain-Portugal Programme (POCTEP) 2014-2020, Project 4IE+ [0499 4IE PLUS 4 E].