Israel's elderly community is one of the fastest growing in the world, and it is also one of the poorest, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Israel Gerontological Society.
Dr. Israel Doron, chairman of the society, delivered updated information regarding Israel's seniors at a conference on Wednesday on the rising life expectancy rate within the country, organized by the school of Behavioral Sciences at Netanya Academic College.
Twenty three percent of Israel's seniors live below the poverty line, compared to 10% in northern Europe and 15% in Eastern Europe.
In 2009, the rate rose significantly, largely as a result of the economic crisis, according to Gideon Ben Israel, chairman of the Pensioners' Union. Ben Israel added that since many people have been fired from their jobs, they can no longer help their parents financially.
While these statistics are troubling on their own, the rate at which the elderly community is growing within Israel compounds the problem.
According to Doron, seniors made up 4% of the population when the state was formed in 1948. That number currently stands at 10%, and is expected to rise to 14% by 2030 - a rate higher than that of both the US and Europe.
The rapid aging of Israel's population stems from the country's high life expectancy - nearly 81 years - and the wave of aliya from the FSU.
The conference also showcased some troubling data regarding seniors' non-financial problems. Forty percent are afraid to walk alone at night as a result of rising violence against them, and 95% watch television - often to combat loneliness.