Ukraine Crisis

Older people are disproportionately affected by the crisis

More than ten million people have now fled their homes in Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. For older Ukrainians, the situation is particularly dangerous. One out of four people in Ukraine is over the age of 60, making it one of the oldest populations in the world. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has determined that 32% of those in humanitarian need are 60+ years of age.

Regardless of whether they stay or flee, older Ukrainians are now increasingly vulnerable to violence and neglect. A Rapid Needs Assessment conducted by HelpAge in Ukraine highlights the urgent needs of older people as the conflict continues to escalate:

  • 91% of older people report that they do not have enough food to eat
  • 79% of older people report that they do not have access to sufficient clean drinking water
  • 34% of older people require urgent medication for their chronic illnesses
  • 75% of older people report that they need hygiene items such as toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper

In Moldova, a Rapid Needs Assessment conducted by HelpAge provides a snapshot of older Ukrainian refugees at the border and in refugee centers.

  • 27% of older people are unsure if they will stay in Moldova, underscoring the chaos and uncertainty that many refugees face.
  • 28% of older people report urgently needing medication including for diabetes, blood pressure, and pain relief.
  • 25% reported that they do not have access to sufficient hygiene supplies such as soap, shampoo, and toothbrushes.

In Poland, among the 2.3 million refugees, an estimated 20% are 65+ years of age.  A Rapid Needs Assessment conducted among older refugees in Poland found that:

  • 63% need urgent medication and 40% report needing urgent medical attention.
  • 45% report needing assistive products, including eyeglasses.
  • 51% report they lack sufficient cash for essentials.

Read the HelpAge Situational Report - April 20, 2022

Read the HelpAge Situational Report - April 8, 2022

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Ukrainian Refugees in Moldova

Stories of Older People Living in Ukraine

More than two million older people in the east of Ukraine are at extreme risk as a result of the assault on the country, which will devastate the lives of millions of people.

Lydia Manuylova

Lydia, 86

I am a widow, I live alone. My daughter lives in another city, she visits me sometimes, to help me around the house and in the yard.

I receive a pension and live on it.

I like to look after flowers, but my health does not allow me to do anything around the garden. I used to grow many different flowers in my garden.

I hardly walk, I almost never go outside, I just move slowly around the house. When I was healthy, I did everything myself, but now I can’t cope without outside help.

The situation with Russia, of course, worries me... After I watch the news, I can't sleep at night, I just thinking about what might happen next. Will there be a war or not? There's a lot of talk about it in the news right now. It's been on my mind for days on end. Very disturbing.

Olga Syshchenko

Olga, 71

I am 71. I live in a village located five kilometres from the contact line. I have been a widow for 14 years. I live alone in a small house. I have a son, a grandson, a granddaughter and two great-grandchildren, they all live in the uncontrolled territory of Ukraine.

I receive pension in the amount of 3200 UAH (100 USD) a month. My pension is my only source of income.

I can't walk well, due to pain in my legs and joints. I suffer from high blood pressure and severe headaches.

I constantly hear explosions, and I don't know if they will reach me or not.

Ekaterina Vyazovaya

Ekaterina, 70

I am a widow. I was born in this village and worked first as a nurse and then as a midwife until I retired. My two daughters got married and left, now they live in Russia. In 2021, my husband died after a long illness, and I was left alone.

In 2011, I fractured my hip due to osteoporosis. As the military conflict began in 2014, my health got worse, both physically and mentally.

I am feeling very lonely. Because of the conflict, my daughters can't come to me. And I can't visit them, as I am afraid to abandon my house. I keep in touch with my daughters only by phone.

I live on the line of contact, where they shoot almost every day. The shelling is what worries me the most. What if they hit the house, and blast the windows, roof, doors out? Who will help me? I am no longer young, and I will not be able to restore all this myself.