Eva, innovating for and with older people

Eva, how nice of you to answer a few questions for us. You work for the Dutch National Foundation for Elderly and we have been working together since 2019. I know you as a down-to-earth, humorous colleague. Can you also tell readers a bit about yourself?

2019, time flies! I also started working at the National Foundation for Elderly in 2019, over 3.5 years ago now. Last summer, I jumped into my 30ies in an unexpected way – I jumped out of a plane (skydive) on my birthday. A very cool experience! Furthermore, I live in Utrecht and, as my name suggests, I am half Greek. So, I love going to Greece in the summer.

 You work at the Foundation for Elderly in the Innovation team. What exactly do you do there and what makes it so fun that you get out of bed for it every day?

Most people know the Foundation for Elderly from services like the PlusBus (a mobility service for older people). But we also have other activities. For example, I am responsible for the panel of older people. With this panel, we regularly conduct research on a variety of topics, from health to digitalisation. This way, we do not only talk about older people, but also with older people. The team is also working on various national and international projects, including the Pharaon project. Another project I am working on is about grief counselling and that project is specifically aimed at people over 55 who have lost their partner. I really enjoy getting involved in many different projects. We also have a great time with colleagues, which is also important for job satisfaction.

The Foundation for Elderly is one of the driving forces behind the PlusBuses. Can you name any other projects you really enjoy?

I like the fact that we have a variety of services and activities, as the target group of older people is also very diverse. For instance, “OldStars” and “The third half” focus on exercise, but also on social contacts. “Welcome Online” is for people who would like to learn (more) digital skills.

As a New Year’s resolution, you mentioned that you wanted to organise more dinners with friends. Did you do that too little? (And if so, why?)

I love having dinner with (a group of) friends. Especially if it can be done outdoors in summer, or in Greece. Due to Covid, it was difficult to get together with groups for a while and it fell by the wayside. I now notice that we have become accustomed to doing other things, even though it is in principle possible again. Hence my intention to initiate it again. The first date has already been set!

The studies we do in the Netherlands are about healthy and happy ageing. What else do you do to take good care of yourself?

This is going to be a boring answer I think: I exercise regularly (I dance flamenco, among other things), watch what I eat a bit (although I don’t diet either), try to keep a good work-life balance and some other things like that.

Finally, what is your favourite PlusBus memory?

I always enjoy joining one of the Foundation for Elderly services and meeting people. I have fond memories of a Plusbus moment last year. Back then I went with volunteer Hans from Amersfoort to pick up participants in a bus we had borrowed (so not our own PlusBus). We then all had a lot of fun trying to discover which voice-activated messages the bus responded to. It took a while before we found the ‘code word’!