Social inclusion of old persons into the life of a community is one of the indicators of society development level, but also a factor which strongly influences mental health of older individuals.
Population of persons older than 60 worldwide is increasingly growing, lifespan has significantly been extended during the recent decades and people may live a long active and healthy life and cannot be regarded anymore as a category characterized by a passivism and decrease of cognitive and physical capabilities.
All this necessarily leads to the need of creating the conditions which will enable older persons to live a long and healthy life in various periods of old age and with regards to different characteristics and position. Led by this idea, in 2015, the World Health Organization made the concept of healthy aging whose main objective is the tendency to ensure supportive environment for older people in which they may develop their mental and physical capacities. This concept may be regarded as the follow-up of the concept adopted by the WHO in 2002, whose main idea was that an individual may be an active participant in the life of their family, as well as in the society, despite the existing cognitive or physical difficulties, which frequently accompany the older age.
Social inclusion is a very complex term and it does not only entail the access to information, but also a dignified aging which includes financial security in the old age, opportunity of equal access to the services of social and health protection, alignment of the labour market to the existing demographic trends and characteristics of older persons, equal protection from any type of discrimination, abuse and violence, equal opportunities for participation in cultural and public life of society. In developed countries, the extended lifespan and increased share of the old persons in the population, are followed by significant changes in the understanding of the aging process, capabilities, as well as the programmes supporting high quality life in older phases of life. In recent years, we have been witnessing that numerous programmes are implemented with the aim of greater social inclusion of old persons in active life of a community, and those programmes promoting socializing and creative-educational work with children in order to transfer experience, knowledge and skills of older people to younger as well as overcoming generation gap through joint socialization. These projects are intended to encourage and promote healthy attitude of the community towards old age so as to contribute to more quality life of persons in the third age and better intergenerational relations.
All rapid changes in all spheres of society development will inevitably lead to the need of creating and implementing a greater number of these plans and projects, since the opening of different possibilities of active participation of older persons in the life is beneficial for all society members. The improvement of the position of old people and recognition of their potential will lead not only to social participation and satisfaction of the needs, but also to achieving quality lifestyles of the whole society.