More and more immigrants retiring in Germany

16th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 June 2005, BERLIN - Many foreigners living in Germany are deciding to retire here, despite the fact that institutions are often not oriented towards the needs of immigrants, according to speakers at the 'Altwerden in der Fremde' ('Growing old abroad') conference in Berlin.

16 June 2005

BERLIN - Many foreigners living in Germany are deciding to retire here, despite the fact that institutions are often not oriented towards the needs of immigrants, according to speakers at the 'Altwerden in der Fremde' ('Growing old abroad') conference in Berlin.

"The number of foreigners over 60 is continuously growing," said Irmingard Schewe-Gerigk, the Greens Bundestag speaker on the aged and the organiser of the discussion forum, in remarks quoted by the Berlin daily Taz.

In the 1960s, 'Gastarbeiter' (guest workers) from Turkey, Greece, Italy and Croatia were invited to come to Germany to work. They were expected to return to their home countries later. However a large proportion of the first wave of guest workers have decided to spend their retirement in Germany. Their children and grandchildren live here, and they have lost ties with their former homelands over the years.

Although Germany's foreign population is currently significantly younger than the German population, the charity Caritas predicts that by 2010 there will be 1.3 million elderly foreigners living in Germany. By 2030 a quarter of Germany's senior citizens will be immigrants.

Experts say that many foreigners age quicker than Germans, as a result of doing heavy manual labour, shift work, and night work. "The ageing process kicks in earlier [with foreigners] than is the average in the German population," said Peter Zeman from the German Centre of Gerontology.

"During their working lives, immigrants have often enjoyed too few chances for regeneration," added Zeman, citing their lifestyle as the main reason. Immigrants often work overtime or have two jobs, in order to earn as much money as possible in the shortest time, to invest in their home country. Many immigrants decide to stay in Germany, however.

Immigrants often expect to be taken care of by their families in Germany. "But often that doesn't work," said Schewe-Gerigk. Their children and grandchildren have jobs and so caring for the retired immigrants has to be done by professionals.

However immigrants are often not well enough informed about institutions which care for the elderly. Similarly such institutions are often ignorant of the special ethnic and religious needs of immigrants.

"For example, a bedridden Muslim cannot be washed with a flannel," said Ulrich Stiels from Transkultureller Pflegedienst Hannover, explaining that according to Islamic beliefs running water must be used. Raising awareness of such needs is one of the aims of the conference.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: German news

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