By taking care of our senior citizens, we are taking care of the future
26 may 2021
Every month, we inform our readers about the efforts of charitable foundations that SIBUR cooperates with within the framework of its social investment program, the Formula for Good Deeds, offering advice on how, through working together, we can make life in our cities better.
Our May issue will focus on helping the elderly. SIBUR employees have been helping the elderly people who are in the care of the Starost v radost (Aging Can Be Fun) Foundation by collecting basic necessities and by paying visits to lonely senior citizens.
Due to the restrictions introduced last year, new forms of volunteering have since emerged and evolved. Alla Romanovskaya, Head of Volunteering at Starost v radost discusses life’s challanges, and new ways of helping the elderly.
Alla, how long have you been helping the elderly?
We have been doing this since 2007, following Elizaveta Oleskina’s (the Foundation’s future founder) visit of a rural nursing home in 2006, that she paid while a first-year student at MSU’s Philology Department.
What prompted you to start helping senior citizens?
At that time, helping others felt like a natural thing to do whereas the specific choice of whom to help was influenced by circumstances: we met some elderly people and felt how important our presence was for them.
What has changed over the years?
We have come a long way from simple volunteering trips featuring amateurish concerts at the beginning to developing a nation-wide comprehensive system of care for the elderly and the disabled. Volunteering continues to be what we do, but it is now fully embedded into our foundation’s programs to ensure that we do not just entertain people but also help to solve problems, the root causes of which we have researched.
Various problems that are associated with the needs of the elderly can affect almost any family, but getting old should not be a frightful experience. This is something people now understand at all levels, and so the next obvious step is dealing with that.
What kinds of difficulties do the elderly people face, including those who aren’t lonely and have relatives?
Senior citizens may be struggling with certain handicaps. Some may not be able to leave their home unassisted, but they can perhaps move around their home on their own. Some can cook their own meals, while others are only capable of heating up precooked food. Some suffer from dementia and while they can still be brisk walkers they may not remember where they are going and get lost as a result, and so on. Others have to live with a whole range of problems: their memory is failing and their strength is declining.
What kind of help can they require?
It is not just the elderly suffering from these conditions who need our help but their relatives, too. In Russia, it is often the relatives of the elderly who have to assume the role of their caregivers, often resulting in them having to sacrifice their professional and social life, to burn out, and give up on taking care of their own health.
Depending on the problem at hand, varying viable solution may be offered to those who need it. For some, it could be a lifesaver to have a nursing helper spending 2 to 4 hours a day at their home providing comprehensive care, including help with maintaining hygiene, meals, or going for a stroll. Others may need access to daycare centers where the elderly will be able to spend their leisure time doing something enjoyable and exciting according to their abilities, socialize with the others, be reminded to take their medicines and not to take a second helping of pills by accident, and in the evening they will be picked up by their relatives who will have returned from work. And it can save the family from a terrible choice: whether or not to commit a relative to a full-time nursing home, or quit work themselves, whether to lock their elderly relative in – something that is certainly unacceptable and should be off-limits ...
Some people may need to use the services of a rental company to, say, rent a wheelchair for a set length of time, i.e. until they get another one provided to them by the state on a permanent basis.
Please tell us how one can help lonely elderly people, including the wards of Starost v radost?
One simple and obvious form of assistance to the Foundation’s wards is donations. Donated funds are used to pay for additional care for frail elderly people living either in a nursing home or at home, for medicines or for undergoing medical examinations and treatments, cataract surgery, prosthetic dentistry, etc. We also provide older people with care products, new beds and mattresses, furniture and appliances, wheelchairs and platform lifts. One can donate any amount of money to be used for implementing the foundation's programs by proceeding to our website using the following the link.
Another way of helping is by buying hygiene and care products, materials for hobbies and crafts, or confectionaries, and sending them to the foundation’s warehouse. Our list of such items can be found at https://starikam.org/other-help/needs/. It contains no products that would be deemed more or less important than the next one. Each item is equally valuable for the elderly, and we would appreciate any help that you are willing or able to offer.
One can also help the elderly by simply socializing with them or engaging in a conversation, even remotely. One can either become our elderly wards’ regular correspondent or just send them a birthday or a holiday card once in a while or on an occasion from anywhere and at any time. Or one can become what we call a video volunteer by communicating with the residents of nursing homes via Zoom, doing this once or on a regular basis, conducting virtual tours of places where you travel, holding master classes focusing on one’s hobbies, or staging impromptu concerts.
In addition, volunteers can befriend the elderly people by talking to them on the phone (in this case, regularity and commitment to maintaining the relationship for months is a must).
Volunteers’ trips to nursing homes after the quarantine are now being resumed: for now, the visiting groups are limited in size, but it is still possible to visit residents of nursing homes, psychoneurological nursing homes and gerontology departments at hospitals.
If you want to help elderly people or join our team of volunteers at the Starost v radost Foundation, you can find out more about their activities and areas of assistance at the Foundation’s official website at https://starikam.org/.
If you know of a charity or a public welfare institution that needs help, or you have ideas for our subsequent issues, you can send a message to our Formula for Good Deeds coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org with a note “ATTN: the Formula for Good Deeds’ charitable digest”.
In the event you missed one of our previous issues, you can find them here:
- About SIBUR's Moscow employees doing volunteering work for the Choose Life Foundation helping children with cancer and hematological diseases
- >Let us help renovate the Kind House for people with developmental disabilities
- A chance for life for children with cerebral palsy
- Marina Yefimova: There are no problem children, there can be difficult circumstances in life.