The National Council for the Care of the Elderly (CONAPAM- Consejo Nacional de Atención a la Persona Adulta Mayor) began to settle the historical debt of regionalizing its offices. For the first time, after 22 years of existence, they opened a branch office outside of the San Jose area. Guanacaste was chosen since it has the second largest population of older adults, following the central region.
“We are marking a historic milestone,” said the president of the board of directors, Dennis Angulo. “We saw the need in every region of the country that we go to and they tell us that they don’t have access to CONAPAM,” he added.
The office is located in the Santa Cruz Day Center facilities. It currently has a social worker who provides advice to older adults on carrying out procedures with institutions like the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS- Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social), the National Housing Mortgage Bank (BANHVI- Banco Nacional Hipotecario de Vivienda) and the Mixed Institute of Social Aid (IMAS- Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social).
In the coming weeks, the office will also get a legal advisor from the Law Office of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), with whom the institution has an agreement. This person would assist the elderly in legal processes, including complaints about all kinds of abuses, such as patrimonial, physical and sexual abuse.
The president of the Santa Cruz Day Center’s board of directors, Maria Elena Paniagua, thinks the office will go above and beyond for the elderly to receive care faster. The office will be the referral point for assisting 35,958 people over 65 years of age who live in the province, according to population projections from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC- Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos).
The regional branch office will also focus a good part of its efforts on coordinating actions with educational institutions, civil society, municipalities and social welfare organizations to generate support and empowerment networks for the elderly. To do this, according to Angulo, they are first working on an assessment of the elderly population and their needs.
“There are assistance programs that are for vulnerable populations, but we don’t just want that conception of an office that is going to provide food or money. “We’re going beyond that,” Angulo said. “We’ll begin to empower older adults about their rights, programs and activities that CONAPAM offers.”
To do this, the president of the board encourages the Guanacaste population, institutions, organizations and companies to approach the regional CONAPAM office and join forces to work for the benefit of senior citizens.
I am from Liberia, and there is poverty in Guanacaste and the pandemic increased it, but there is a bigger problem that I’ve noticed, and that is loneliness. That’s why the power of intergenerational relationships needs to be harnessed so they can have a better quality of life,” added Angulo.
CONAPAM plans to open other offices in the Brunca, Caribe and Huetar Norte regions. The Brunca office should open at the end of the year or in the beginning of 2022.
If you want to contact CONAPAM’s regional office, call 2101-9509 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.