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Poverty among Senior Citizens

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Poverty among Senior Citizens

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Far too many senior citizens must get by with ISK 1,000 (USD 7.90, EUR 7.02) a day for food and medicine, RÚV reports.

Head of he Association of Senior Citizens in Reykjavík says people increasingly seek the help of charities or that of their children, because they fail to make ends meet.

Matthildur Jóhannsdóttir is 74. She lives in an apartment for senior citizens in Grafarvogur, Reykjavík. She used to be a caregiver, a phone operator, an office worker, and a singer. Now she has ISK 40,000 (USD 316, EUR 281) a month to spare once rent and utilities have been paid.

“If something unexpected comes up, then I must use the credit card or get a loan somewhere,” she tells RÚV. “There’s nothing left. We’re about to give up. We just barely make it, but the time will come when everything comes to a halt. We can’t go on.”

Matthildur is disappointed with members of parliament: “Sometimes I do believe those people in Alþingi are deaf. They don’t know how pathetic it is to live like this. We’re talking about our last steps. We’ve been working all our lives and I want to see this improved so we can live like normal people.” She adds, “We can’t go on strike. We can’t work. There’s nothing we can do.”

Þórunn H. Sveinbjörnsdóttir, head of he Association of Senior Citizens in Reykjavík reports that far too many citizens are in Matthildur‘s shoes, and even worse off than she, with some having to survive on ISK 800 (USD 6.32, EUR 5.62) a day once rent and utilities have been paid. The gap, she says, between pension payments and wages has never been wider.

„Many of these people have such a tight budget that they can‘t afford birthday or Christmas presents, or confirmation gifts, in addition to not being able to eat a healthy diet, and this must cause them anxiety. We must hope and believe there is unity to seek solutions for these people.“

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