June 21, 2024

There are so many programs in Barcelona for senior citizens that can perhaps be adopted by other cities.
These programs that benefit about 300,000 citizens who are 60 years and above were established by the Barcelona City Council and has greatly enhanced the health, happiness, and well-being of not only the senior citizens, who are the direct beneficiaries of these programs, but also their families and the city as a whole.
Take for example the social service promoted by the Barcelona City Council called the “La Tarjeta Rosa (Pink Card), which is available to all people 60 years of age or with a proven disability.
For Spanish senior citizens and permanent residents, their Pink Card entitles them to free rides in all public transports (efficient and always on-time buses and metro trains and trams) and free entrance to public museums, aside from a series of discounts and advantages in a large number of establishments and entities not only in Barcelona but in the metropolitan area, which discounts are also available to all other holders of the “Tarjeta Rosa”.
The Barcelona City Council had invited the community to participate in the program, specifically business entities in various areas as in health, culture, leisure, sports, beauty, and so many other fields.
More than a thousand of these business entities are now enrolled in the program and the Pink Card holder can enjoy hefty discounts to cultural shows, museums, theaters, cinemas, bookstores; to services of health providers – dentists, physiotherapists, optics, audiology, sports, and so many others.
These business entities have prominently posted at their respective entrances big stickers stating that the Pink Card discounts are honored there.
(This program made us recall a project which we initiated decades ago in the YMCA of Baguio to drum up membership and we named it “Baguio Hospitality Card”. We were then able to enlist some market vendors, movie houses, restaurants, hotels, among others, to the program and gave discounts to the YMCA cardholder. Our membership roster increased quite modestly.)
As to the other programs for senior citizens in Barcelona, there are, in every district, a CASAL Civic Center where all types of activities, courses, walks, dances, and memory training workshops are available to them.
The center itself serves as the venue for different activities such as lectures on health, computer literacy, bingo socials, dance socials, meditation and prayer room. The seniors are brought to museums and historical places which are all free of charge.
For those who care to join an out-of-town tour all they have to pay is a minimal fee. A CASAL in the district draws up a quarterly program which is available to the senior citizen on a first come, first served basis and those who are not accommodated can enrol in the coming quarter where they are given priority enrolment.
One can find in almost every park in a community in Barcelona, benches around its perimeter and at the center – a fountain. Aside from the flowering plants and the trees around them there is a parcourse – where you can do your physical exercises for your feet and legs, hands and arms, all of which are senior-friendly equipment. Other health sessions happening in the parks are yoga, tai chi, and chi kung sessions, as well as gentle walks and memory exercises.
One significant benefit given to the people in Barcelona is public health. If one cannot afford to have a private health insurance, the government takes care of your health. Should you need emergency care, just call a number and an ambulance will pick you up and bring you to the emergency room (urgencia). Should you be hospitalized or should you need an operation, you don’t pay for anything, except for your maintenance medicines for which you pay minimal costs because the medicines are subsidized by the government. You may consult a public health doctor for any health concern and you are made to undergo medical examination or an operation, at no cost at all to you, as long as you are a citizen or a permanent resident. So, this is available not only to senior citizens but to every citizen or a permanent citizen in Spain. That is how they value human life here.