Elderly couple (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced that as of International Day of Older Persons on Wednesday it is providing free dental care to thousands of needy elderly.
The services are provided as part of the organization’s With Respect and Friendship program that provides assistance to underprivileged seniors. In the first stage, some 1,000 housebound elderly, who in addition to financial difficulties are physically unable to go to leave their homes and go to the dentist, receive treatment in their homes through special mobile devices provided by the Organization for Oral Health: Mobile Dentistry.
In the second stage treatment is to be expanded to thousands of needy elderly throughout the country in coordination and cooperation with local authority welfare departments.
“The issue of dental care in Israel is one of the major distortions of the national health system. While the state provides drugs and treatments for many diseases and disabilities, it does not see teeth as part of the human body and as part of the treatment included in the basic basket of services that every citizen is entitled to receive,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ.
In the past year the nonprofit organization held some 10,000 home visits to underprivileged elderly people who receive monthly financial assistance for basic necessities such as food and medicine. As part of these visits, its employees discovered a significant amount of elderly people in need of urgent dental care.
According to the organization, some 60 percent of elderly in Israel suffer from a lack of teeth and 80% reported that they do not tend to go to the dentist. Financial constraints are the primary reason they avoid the use of dental health services since dental treatments are not included in the health basket.
“For years the IFCJ has funded dental care of children of welfare until the State of Israel began to take responsibility for this population group. We also provide dental treatment to thousands of underprivileged youth each year through welfare departments.
Currently, we have decided to take care of the weakest population group in Israel in the hope that in the future the state will provide essential dental care for all its citizens,” said Eckstein.
Also on Wednesday the Pensioners’ Union issued a call to Finance Minister Yair Lapid to “remember the elderly in Israel and resolve the problems of collective nursing care insurance.”
In the publicized appeal, the union said there were some quarter of a million seniors who have been waiting for three years for the Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings Division at the ministry to provide a new plan for collective nursing care insurance.
According to the union, with the end of the current plan, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, the insurance premiums of the elderly will jump fivefold or more.
“The generation of the founders of the state and its builders are entitled to nursing care insurance in their old age. Once they were middle class and today they are without anything, take care of them,” the call stated.