Experts from Perm and Oxford discussed how the life of senior citizens can be playing out in fresh colours.
The pension reform has turned the problems of the elderly into one of the most discussed topics in Russia. How to ensure dignified living conditions? What should the state do? How can people of the older generation be useful to society? Questions are numerous, so Permcitybro.com website decided to contribute to the search for the answers. In late September, experts from Perm and Oxford gathered to discuss the life of the “60+” generation.
“These are colossal figures for any country. However, we must understand that the elderly are not only those who are waiting for the state’s help but also a resource that the country can use to develop its economy. How to create an optimal model for interaction between the state and people of the older generation – I propose starting our round table on this topic, “said editor-in-chief of the business weekly Business Class Vadim Skovorodin opening the discussion.
According to a shrewd remark made by Mikhail Gaseneger, a well-known Perm actor and TV presenter, representative of the age category 70+, the majority of Russian pensioners today “do not live, but live out”. First of all, this is due to the small size of pensions: they are on average 200 euros per person per month.
“In Great Britain, too, there is a big difference between the amount of pensions. State pensions also provide an opportunity only to survive, basically the pension accruals depend on the company the person worked at. If the employer’s payments to pension funds were significant, then you will receive a decent pension. But in my opinion the crucial issue is still not connected with money. It is important to decide what you will do after retirement, how to keep being active within the society. I, for example, volunteer. At some point I just realized that it was my turn to give to the society,” says Marcus Ferrar, a writer, a former Reuters journalist.
This is one of the biggest differences between the life of the elderly in Russia and the United Kingdom – participation in volunteer projects is common for the British, but not so common for the Russian. Heads of the public organization “Silver Volunteers of Perm” Sergey and Olga Tusniny shared their experience of involving elderly people in charitable activities. For several years, they have been uniting schoolchildren and the elderly into groups to help single old people – cleaning apartments, delivering medicine and products, preparing postcards and gifts for holidays. But there are still few such projects.
Janice Giffen shared her opinion:”there are many volunteer organizations’ websites, where you can choose an activity to your liking. For example, the “Food bank” project is very popular, where food is collected for those in need. You can choose for yourself the position that you want to occupy in this project – to manage the meals or hand it out to those who need it. Such projects can unite the interests of well versed in modern technologies young people and the elderly.” Janice is retired but continues to deal with issues of civil society interaction.
Coordinator of urban social projects in Perm Maria Lyamina noted that young people are far from being always interested in activities with elderly people. “The modern world’s big problem is loneliness. Unfortunately, people no longer know those who live around them. The connection is lost not only between different generations, but even within one age group, “Jenny Bavidge, a professor at Cambridge University, said.
According to Alexei Gribanov, deputy chairman of the Perm City Council, such contacts in Perm are trying to be fostered through a community centers network. “We created community centers in different parts of the city, here people of all generations sing, dance, draw, do needlework, Nordic walking, form health groups. The idea of community centers was given to us by Oxford, “Mr. Gribanov said. “An elderly lady of 87 participated in the Perm International Marathon that took place in early September. For the first time this October we will hold a festival on Nordic walking “Perm walk”, we plan that 5000 elderly people will partake,”said Alexei Gribanov.
During the discussion participants formulated the principle of the “ideal old age”: “It turns out that when you work, you worry that you do not have enough time for anything. And after retirement, it is ideal when you never have time, because you feel in demand.” Everyone participating supported this statement, agreeing to hold a joint teleconference “Perm-Oxford”next time with the participation of the twin cities’ older generation representatives.