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Help Age actions in Colombia

After working in Colombia for nearly 30 years, we opened our HelpAge office in Bogotá in 2009.

We support older people affected by the ongoing internal armed conflict, as well as working in the areas of health, food security, legal advice, psychosocial support and shelter.

In the past year, we have helped more than 20,000 older people through our Sergio, 78, feels like a different person now he has dentures.

Life story: Sergio, 78

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“I started losing my teeth at the age of 37 because I could not go to the dentist and I didn’t know how to take care of them.

“For years I have been struggling to eat. I couldn’t chew my food and I started suffering from bad stomach pains.

“I tried to get dentures but they were too expensive, so I gave up.

“When I was invited by HelpAge to part of one of their health programmes for older indigenous people that included dental care, I accepted immediately.

“The dentures I have now have changed my life. I feel like I’m a different person.”

Supporting older people in Colombia

Over the last year we have carried out work in several areas to support older people in Colombia.

Health

  • Over 15,000 older people have received healthcare through our health and gerontology groups, including dental care and mental health counselling.
  • In Nariño, we have provided healthcare to 2,359 older indigenous Awa who were living in extreme poverty and confinement due to the armed conflict.

Secure incomes and livelihoods

  • We have set up 75 food security projects with older indigenous Awa living in communities affected by conflict.

Legal advice

  • Through our Partner Paz y Bien we have provided legal support to 148 older displaced people to access to government support as victims of conflict.

Emergency support

  • We have given emergency food, essential items and counselling to over 2,000 people.
  • We have helped 552 older people access healthcare through mobile medical services and have trained 88 community volunteers in first aid specifically for older people.

What next?

  • We will work with other international humanitarian agencies to ensure they include older people in their emergency programmes and emergency medical services in conflict areas that state services can’t reach.
  • We will continue to strengthen older citizens’ monitoring groups to ensure older people can advocate for changes in their lives.
  • We will support the national representative organisation for older people in Colombia to be recognised and consulted in the development of public policy.

Striking facts

  • 10% of the Colombian population is over 60.
  • Life expectancy for older men in Colombia is 80. For older women, it is 82.
  • 30% of people aged 60-79 remain active in the labour market.
  • 1% of people forced out of their homes by conflict are over 60.