An elderly man is seen on an escalator in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 7, 2022. Photo: Xinhua
Turkey’s economic crisis has hit the country’s elderly hard, whose incomes are being eroded by runaway inflation.
Although state pensions and social assistance have been significantly increased by the government to combat the current annual inflation of 83.45%, pensioners living on their pensions still cannot afford the high cost of life.
“Due to the high prices, we can’t buy anything. We are deprived of everything,” Sinan Tas, an 80-year-old pensioner in the capital Ankara, told Xinhua.
The elderly woman lives alone in a “gecekondu”, the Turkish word for a slum house built without proper permits, which proliferated in major cities in the 1970s during waves of migration from rural areas to cities.
She is now the sole occupant of the house, where she has lived for free for 50 years thanks to the charity of the owner of the house.
Tass said his monthly pension of 3,800 lira (US$205) could barely cover his expenses.
“It’s very difficult for us to manage. Go look in my fridge, there’s nothing in it,” she lamented.
His friend and neighbour, Melek Polat, 68, echoed the grievances.
“We are going through a very difficult time. The price of everything has gone up and the price increases continue unabated,” she said.
“We have stopped buying meat or dairy products. For other essentials, we are constantly on the lookout for bargains,” Polat added.
Over the past few years, Turkey has suffered from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and a weakening currency.
About 12% of people over the age of 65 in the country are still working to make ends meet, according to figures released in early 2022 by the Turkish Statistical Institute.
The retirement age is 60 for men and 58 for women in Turkey.
In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government increased state pensions by more than 42% to address growing concerns among the elderly.
The country’s 13.7 million pensioners out of a total population of 84.5 million are key to winning the next presidential and legislative elections scheduled for June 2023, analysts say.
Erdogan, who hasn’t lost an election since coming to power in 2002 and enjoys strong popular support despite economic hardship, has promised a further and “significant” increase in state pensions in January 2023.
However, with an impending winter gas crisis caused by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, heating costs are also a serious problem.
“Heating has also become very expensive. It looks like this winter we will be hiding under blankets because we cannot pay the bills,” Polat said.
Elderly people are seen on a street in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 7, 2022. Photo: Xinhua
Elderly people walk on a street in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 7, 2022. Photo: Xinhua
An elderly man is seen on a street in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 7, 2022. Photo: Xinhua