New strategy for the elderly to be developed

Moscow 6 August 2014

An action plan for the elderly is to be formulated in Russia


President Putin has signified his support for a proposition from the State Council on the Development of Welfare for the Elderly that a strategy of concerted action be developed to  promote the interests of the elderly. A meeting of the council’s presidium on this subject was held on 5 August in Voronezh.

The main themes discussed were improvement of the socio-economic position of the elderly and their access to health services.

Currently average life expectancy amounts to 70.8 years. The government’s aim is to extend this to 74 years by 2018 and 75.7 by 2020. According to the ministry of labour’s figures there were 33.1 million elderly people (women over 55 and men over 60) living in the Russian Federation as at January 2013, amounting to 23.1% of the population. However, one in three people who have reached pensionable age continue to work.

As the president said at the meeting, it is important to attract volunteers to work with those of the elderly who are experiencing difficulties (loneliness, frailty, and serious illnesses), to support families who take the elderly and those with disabilities under their wing, and  actively to develop social services in the community.

Policy on the elderly, said the president, should now be to adopt a flexible approach designed to create the conditions conducive to greater life expectancy and an active old age combined with support for those in need.

‘Implementation of the new policy requires fundamental change in the social welfare, health and education systems. A number of departmental programmes need altering and special attention needs to be paid to the development of service delivery by the non-governmental sector.  Obviously it is very difficult to solve all the problems in a short space of time. So I consider that the best course would be to ask the council to develop a strategy of concerted action to help the elderly’ said the president.

‘Basic aspects like employment, the maintenance/improvement of the health of the elderly, leisure activities and the development of the market for providing social services will need careful consideration when the strategy is being worked out.

Many pensioners have the opportunity to work in their free time but opportunities for creative activities, socialising, and sport should also be taken into account. The necessary infrastructure is already being created in a number of the main cities not just for social services but also for activities in the cultural sphere such as education, sport and tourism. Elements of civil society and the regional branches of the leading political parties are paying attention to this endeavour. Such experience is indispensable when it comes to developing the strategy’, stressed the president.

Concerning the development of the market for social services and enhancement of their quality and accessibility, Mr Putin drew attention to the implementation of the Principles of Social Services for the Russian Citizens Law which will come into force on 1 January 2015 and provides for important organisational change.

The topic of working up a strategy to benefit the elderly has been raised on a number of occasions in professional circles. In particular the vision of a strategy was discussed at the national conference on ageing which took place in Moscow in October 2013.

At the conference Elena Topoleva, a member of the public chamber of the Russian Federation, said: ‘We should come together to create a unified national strategy on ageing in Russia. Insufficient attention is being paid to the subject of the older generation at present and only a few NGOs and some individual enthusiasts engage with the problems of the aged. The essence of the matter is that we should create a precise vision of a future for the older generation and decide what we must do to attain it in 10-15 years’ time.’

The national strategy for an active, lengthy old age is not merely a piece of paper but also a social agreement between all sections of society including business, NGOs, and the professional community, according to the general director of the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Fund, Maria Morozova.

During an interview with ASI Ms Morozova observed:

‘We are sure that a quality national strategy needs developing in Russia targeted at creating the basis for a dignified old age and founded upon the principles of a society that caters for people of all ages. It is important that this be supported both by government and the general public. I hope that citizens and organisations engaged in supporting the elderly will sign up to that initiative and that we will be able together to change the system of care for the elderly as well as the way in which we relate to them generally.’

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