How to care for the elderly, in Russia and abroad

How to look after the elderly, in Russia and abroad


Research into support for the elderly has been carried out in various countries.

The Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation presented the brief results on 6 July, with the research itself already concluded and not due to be published. The research was timed to coincide with the launch of the new grant-competition Near Circle, which is aimed at identifying the best Russian practices and will be announced in the middle of this week.

Professor Irina Grigorieva, from Saint Petersburg State University, led the study of the Russian experience of caring for the elderly. Kira Yankelevich, head of the programme Senior Generation, commented on the results, saying it is too early to consider the Russian support system for the elderly to be fully developed: the state cannot take control of the entire support system, some of this needs to be delivered by public projects.

Yankelevich believes “care in the immediate environment is an approach which aims to help the elderly and their family to organise their lives in a way that means they can live at home for as long as possible, rather than having to move into residential care for the elderly. This policy is often called “residential ageing”. Research has shown that such projects already exist in Russia, as people intuitively understand they are needed. However, apart from Jewish Charitable Centre’s activities, all of them are small ‘boutiques’.”

Amongst the latter is the project Good Neighbours, run by the Saint Petersburg organisation House of Projects, which sees activists visit and telephone the disable elderly. The organisation’s research also identified the Gatchina Third-Age School.

Foreign practices

Professor Tine Rostgaard at the Stockholm University researched foreign practices.

Professor Rostgaard identified five models for the distribution of responsibility between the state, the market, volunteers and the families of the elderly. In Scandinavian countries there is a universal model in which the elderly use public services, which are affordable and of a high quality.

In Austria and Germany, there is a model of shared social care, which sees the elderly receive a cash benefit or a service, with most choosing the former. Meanwhile, volunteering is well developed there and larger NGOs that provide social services are affiliated with the Church.

In the US and the UK there is model of targeted assistance, which sees the right to access to services determined by the financial situation of the elderly. Commercial long-term assistance programmes are widespread generally; the state is involved in cases where a person cannot afford to pay for care.

In Mediterranean countries – being Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece – the family model of responsibility distribution is being promoted.  Legally it is the duty of the family to care for the elderly and they are entitled to an, albeit small, allowance.

In Central and Eastern European countries there is a minimalist model, which sees the elderly assisted in institutions. If their family can take care of them, then state allocates practically no funds for support.


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