Ageing Without Fear of the Future
Russia-Germany impact session
On March 20, Moscow held an impact session dedicated to ageing, elderly care, interaction with senior citizens, and intergenerational relationships. BMW Foundation, Generationsbrücke Deutschland, International Alumni Center (iac Berlin), Skazki U Kamina Non-Profit Organisation, and Dom U Parka rest home for seniors organised the meeting. Natalia Peryazeva, founder of Dom U Parka, shared about the importance of building infrastructure, establishing social networks, and noticing joys of older age.
Natalia Peryazeva - Social entrepreneur, founder of Dom U Parka rest home for seniors, winner of the Best Social Project of the Year 2018, founder of Skazki U Kamina project
Russia’s standard of living and life expectancy are rising, hence the number of elder people in need of care is growing as well. Ms. Peryazeva mentioned that today 20 million citizens of Russia, which equals 14% of the country’s population, are over the age of 65. Senior citizens are predicted to make about 32% of Russia’s population by 2050. That means it is now necessary to start building infrastructure to provide comfortable ageing for people. It is therefore important for the youth to have a good understanding of what older people feel, enjoy, and are upset about.
Natalia Peryazeva invited everyone present to participate in a workshop simulating old age called ‘What Does It Mean to Be a Turtle’.
Every participant got sight-limiting glasses and gloves that reduced sensitivity of hands and woodened their motion. In such an outfit, the attendees had to perform a number of simple tasks that would not be hard to do in everyday life. It turned out to be really challenging, while the process took quite a lot of time.
Such exercise that can be repeated at home gives one the opportunity to understand older people better and treat them with due patience and respect.
Significant attention was paid to intergenerational relationships. Ms. Peryazeva noted modern children often have no idea how to behave towards the elderly. It is essential that adults could communicate that properly to their kids and tell them about the old age. Natalya Peryazeva’s team often visits schools and universities and talks to the youth about proper interaction with seniors while conducting special workshops. Over a short period, several dozens of lessons were organised for thousands of people. However, it is impossible to focus on every educational institution.
Thus, the new project was launched. It is a free online course for the youth powered by crowdfunding. Anyone can support the realisation of the project.
Intergenerational relations were also discussed using the example of a German project called Generationsbrücke. It is planned to act in Russia as well. In the framework of a special programme, children from neighbouring schools or kindergartens come to retirement homes and communicate with their residents on a regular basis. Every child chooses a senior citizen for a long-term relationship. Representatives of different generations share their hobbies with each other, learn something new, and just have fun together. Children undergo special training ahead of such meetings. Psychologists and teachers communicate them peculiarities of the elderly and ways to behave towards such people.
Over the realisation of such programme, seniors were repeatedly observed to become more happy and open while communicating with children.
Horst Krumbach, founder of Generationsbrücke, spoke on Germany’s experience in creating special day centres for the elderly. Such places provide professional care, transfer home, meals, leisure activities, and communication.
Thanks to such centres, a senior citizen can continue living in their own house being close to their family and not getting bored while everyone is at work.
Mr. Krumbach suggested introducing such practice in Russia and promised to share his knowledge and experience with those interested. According to him, that is a perfect and vacant niche for the development of social entrepreneurship that is now gaining popularity, especially among businesswomen.
Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Boykov