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Kids aid elderly with holiday tasks in Kuusamo

The city of Kuusamo turns 150 years old this year. Taking care of local pensioners is part of the celebrations this Christmas.

Vanhus koristelee pipareita.
Lonely pensioners are comforted by helpful children in Kuusamo. Image: Hanna Terävä / Yle

The city of Kuusamo in Northern Ostrobothnia has been granting the wishes of its local elderly population this year, which marks the 150th year since the city's founding.

Early in the year Kuusamo pledged to fulfill the wishes of 150 pensioners to honour its longest-living population. Over the holidays locals have wished for helping hands – which they indeed received.

Sisters Annu and Pihla Korhonen, aged 3 and 4, visited Elma Myllymäki, 82, on Christmas Eve to help her cook her Christmas dinner and put up decorations.

"It's wonderful to potter around with children, as I have none of my own," Myllymäki said.

Elma Myllymäki Kuusamo
Elma Myllymäki's Christmas was made joyous by the Korhonen family. Image: Ensio Karjalainen / Yle

The small city's aid drive is a move that reflects the deepening crisis of loneliness faced by the elderly especially. Research indicates that an estimated 500,000 to one million adult people in Finland experience severe loneliness per year. Extended solitude is considered a health risk by medical professionals.

"My siblings live all the way in Sweden," Myllymäki said. "Sometimes I feel lonesome, especially on the bad days. It is so nice to have company."

Kaisa Korhonen, mother of the two little helpers joined in the Christmas cheer. She said the day went off so well that future visits are also in the cards.

"We've already made plans with Elma to take some candles to the cemetery, to pay our respects this Christmas."

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