Social media the most important source of information for elderly foreign-language speakers during emergency conditions

Publication date 17.9.2020 9.08 | Published in English on 23.9.2020 at 9.26
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According to a report by organisations, municipalities had very few and infrequent direct contacts with customers after the emergency conditions began. Despite this, the majority of those interviewed for the report felt that they had received sufficient information and instructions regarding the coronavirus. Elderly foreign-language speakers reported that they had coped independently in their everyday activities during the emergency conditions. The exceptional situation caused concerns and fears among those interviewed regarding the wellbeing of relatives and social isolation.

One of the challenges mentioned in the report is access to correct information. Some of the respondents were only able to access oral information in their own language from relatives, which explains why there was much false information about the coronavirus going round in spring 2020. The authorities were unable to effectively provide official information, translated into other languages, to the elderly respondents for reasons such as inability to use modern communication tools.

For the report, 138 foreign-language speakers were interviewed by telephone in April 2020. The interviewees represented nine different language groups, the biggest ones being Russian and Arabic. The majority of respondents lived in the Greater Helsinki area, and 80% of them were women.

The working group studying the daily life of elderly foreign-language speakers in emergency conditions comprised the Finnish Pensioners’ Association, the Käpyrinne senior citizens’ association, the Association of Carers in Helsinki and Vantaa, the Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, and the Koskenrinne association for assisted living. 

More information:

How are we doing? The welfare state promises to take care of all elderly people, including minorities? The effects of the emergency conditions on the everyday lives of elderly foreign-language speakers (in Finnish)

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