Supporting older people whose lives have been
devastated by the war in Ukraine.
Older people are disproportionately affected by the conflict
Ukraine has the largest number of older people impacted by conflict anywhere in the world, with one out of four people over 60.
The war is devastating the lives of millions. For older Ukrainians, the situation is particularly dangerous. They face obstacles to flee unsafe areas and begin life somewhere else. Or, they may choose to remain in their homes and communities despite the risks. Many of them are supporting children, adults with disabilities, or other older adults.
. HelpAge USA has been working with our partners on the ground to support older Ukrainians who are at risk of hunger, violence, and neglect.
As the war continues, HelpAge is continuing to support older Ukrainians through psychosocial aid and services such as home-based care, with volunteer social workers coming directly to older people’s homes, who are often alone, isolated, or unable to leave. With countless older people still being forced to flee from the conflict, we also offer community safe spaces where older people displaced from different parts of Ukraine can come together and get support, as well as personalized assistance for accessing assistive products, basic hygiene items, and cash and legal assistance.
HelpAge also advocates for stronger protections and consistent, comprehensive humanitarian support for older people in Ukraine.
Supporting older Ukrainian refugees
Since February 2022, millions of Ukrainian refugees—including countless older people—have fled to Poland in search of safety from Russia’s brutal war. Many of them did not know where they would end up or how they would survive, and few imagined they would stay in Poland for more than a few weeks or months before being able to return to Ukraine.
In April 2023, we interviewed 14 Ukrainian refugees in Poland to learn about their experiences leaving Ukraine, making the journey to Poland, and coping with life in completely new circumstances and used their voices to develop a new report.
Thousands of Ukrainians have also fled to Moldova, where they live in temporary shelters or, increasingly, in rented accommodation or with relatives in local communities.
HelpAge has provided more than 38,400 older Ukrainian refugees in Moldova with food, winter items, hygiene kits, medical vouchers, assistive devices, home-based care, psychosocial support, legal counseling, and gender-based violence training, including through outreach to those who cannot leave their homes.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, HelpAge and our partners
have been able to provide the following support since February 2022.
Uniquely positioned to protect older people
HelpAge is uniquely positioned to respond to the needs of older people and their families in Ukraine. We have been working in Ukraine to support older people affected by the conflict in 2014 with lifesaving essentials such as food, medicines, and mental health support. HelpAge is one of only five international nonprofits working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in this conflict.
As the conflict continues, we are responding to the most urgent needs of older people, people with disabilities, and their families. We have expanded our emergency relief program so that we can get aid to those who need it most—in Ukraine and to those who have been able to flee to neighboring countries such as Moldova and Poland.
We are helping older people and their families with life-saving assistance such as:
- Specially tailored food packages and clean water
- Hygiene kits, assistive devices, and other essentials to keep them safe
- Cash assistance to meet basic needs
- Mental health support and counseling
- Clean water and hygiene facilities
Our Call to Action
We call on all parties to the conflict and on humanitarian actors responding to the crisis to ensure that:
- Safe, rapid, and unimpeded humanitarian access is in place to ensure older people and those with disabilities can be reached, can access essential life-saving humanitarian support, can receive tailored and prioritized assistance, and can be evacuated to safety.
- Older Ukrainians who have fled to other areas of the country can access full basic services including food and water, healthcare, mental health support, and social services, such as pensions, transportation, and information. Those who have been evacuated should not be forced to move into institutions.
- Refugee host countries must ensure that older people’s rights are upheld, including ensuring dignified reception at border and transit points with prioritization procedures for the crossing of older people; respect for family unity and facilitation of older people reuniting and settling with family members; prioritization of protection for those facing additional risks, such as older women and those with disabilities; and provision of access to national health and social protection systems.
- Older men and women should be included in humanitarian assessments and program activities to ensure that they are provided with appropriate humanitarian protection and assistance.
Supporting Community Safe Spaces:
Olena, Tetiana, Lyudmila, and Tetiana's Story
HelpAge supports community safe spaces across Ukraine, where older men and women can come together to socialize, receive information, engage in creativity, learn new skills, and build new relationships.
At our community safe space in Lviv, four older women displaced from different regions of Ukraine—Olena (69), Tetiana (72), Lyudmila (65), and Tetiana (65)—talk about the war, adapting to a new life, and their hopes to return home.
HelpAge USA is raising money for our Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal to support our work for older people affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Any income not spent after twelve months past the end of the appeal may be allocated to another emergency that requires our support.