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Madeira’s Problematic Declining and Aging Population

At the Madeira 2020 Days, the President of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira (ALRAM), José Manuel Rodrigues advised everyone to look at the reality of the region.  He went on to say that the pandemic has given everyone “an opportunity to rethink our development model, which is excessively dependent on tourism and construction, giving us an opportunity to lay the foundations for a more balanced society, with a better redistribution of resources and wealth.”

“The priority is to reverse the population decline in Madeira.  As José Manuel Rodrigues says, “our population is dwindling, and future projections show that this trend is set to continue. Currently, there are about 254 thousand people living in Madeira, and in 2035, fifteen years from now, this number is set to drop to 227 thousand, if ambitious measures are not taken to promote birth rates. Pordata’s figures for last year indicate that 22% of the island’s population are over 65, while the number children under the age of 15 only equates to 15% of the general population.

In his opinion, Madeira is facing a reality where people are living longer, there is an overall decrease in births and a sharp decrease of those in active employment, which, will all contribute to economic and financial instability for Madeira’s Social Security.

However, he was quick to say that an increase in the elderly population should not be a problem, but as an opportunity to do more and better. To all those who have worked and contributed to the island’s financial security, we have a duty to guarantee their quality of life and allow them to grow older with dignity. Thus, “it is up to us to provide good home and shelter services, if families do not have the capacity to look after aging relatives, but not only this, it is also up to Social Solidarity Institutions and the private sector to create services that are capable of meeting the basic needs of  retired individuals who may suffer from mobility difficulties, but who want to, and are capable of living in their own homes.  With these people in mind, services such as the delivery of medicines and purchases, home help, doctor or outing assistance, and nightly monitoring of those who live alone should be created.”

The ALRAM leader noted that “it may seem like a very small niche for people,” but, he warned, “if we take into account that 10 years from now, most families will comprise of households with less than three people, it is easy to see that the children will not be available to meet the needs of their aging parents.  By acting now, we have an opportunity to generate new jobs, thus contributing to the financing of social security and to a more harmonious and more supportive society.”

Samantha Gannon

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