According to Russia’s most recent census, Russians of retirement age are the fastest growing demographic group in that country.  Yet, as highlighted in a special report by RT, in country where aged care has traditionally been taken on by families, being placed in a nursing home is often associated with stigma and shame.  As a result, while many Western societies have seen a gradual shift towards viewing retirement as enjoyable and active, many Russians view retirement “as the gloomiest, loneliest and, in economic terms, the least secure years of life.” In fact, the report states that “[g]etting older is one of the four biggest fears in Russian society, on a par with worries over terrorism, natural disasters and crime.” It adds that “[p]eople are apprehensive about aging because of the associated health problems, poverty, loss of dignity and loneliness.”

A program developed in the Siberia region of Kurgan, however, is being observed by throughout Russia as a tool with the potential to address the needs of both older and younger Russians.  Noting that many older residents lacked the means with which to support themselves and that a number of younger residents felt a need for the “advice and company” of a grandmother, regional leaders developed an “Adopt a Granny” program.  Through the program, seniors are adopted by young local families who support them financially.  The families receive both government payments and the opportunity to host a senior in their homes in return.  The program is thus seen as allowing for the elderly to be provided for by a family, without going through the social stigma of being placed in a nursing home that they cannot afford.

Take a few minutes to watch the RT report below and share your thoughts on this program with IAHSA.  Can this model be replicated elsewhere? Do you know of similar programs in your region? Can this program provide for the full needs of these seniors or would a Western-style nursing home better serve their needs?   What lessons can other societies learn from this program?

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