I’m away from the warmth and sunshine of Arizona to visit friends in Ireland, which is rainy, windy, and cold. Brrrrrr. I’ve been to Ireland many times before, so on this trip I’m asking questions about the health care system and social services for seniors.
I learned yesterday that the appropriate term is not “elders” or “seniors”, but by decree of some United Nations group, the term to describe people over 65 is “older people”.
I’m staying in the Dublin area with Anna Kenny who is 74 years old, and I’ve been asking Anna all sorts of questions about services provided to older people in Ireland. Here are a few of the benefits for older people here:
Everyone gets a minimum pension from the state (like social security), whether or not they paid taxes. It’s about $1200 per month at the low end.
Seniors get free use of public transit, even the trains that would cost $50 to go across the country.
My friend has diabetes and so she pays $0 for her drugs.
Medical care is free for her because of her “chronic condition”.
The phone line is free, though older people must pay for their phone calls.
Older people get a heating subsidy – which they certainly need because most houses here have little insulation and, brrrrr, it’s cold inside as well as outside!
Next, I’m taking the train to Belfast, Northern Ireland to visit a friend up there. It’s a two-hour train ride to another country with different currency, different accent, and an even more generous social welfare system.