Serious Risks Associated with Persistent Stereotypes about the Elderly People

11 april 2016

For about 20 years, efforts have been taken in Russia to improve the level and quality of life for the elderly. However, the analysis carried out by the Analytical Center found that these efforts are poorly coordinated, lack cohesion and systematization. The Analytical Center's experts write about it in their new social bulletin titled Senior Citizens in Russia: Problems and Prospects.

The Strategy for Actions in the Interests of Senior Citizens in Russia through 2025 calls for eliminating problems and barriers in this area. Unlike other documents passed earlier, the Strategy defines the goals, objectives, and priorities in a more precise, full and comprehensive way. However, the Analytical Center's experts suggest that in order to achieve a maximum effect the Strategy should be amended to include more measures to protect the health of the elderly, promote their economic activity and employment, utilize their educational potential, offer them more social services and encourage them to get more involved socially in general.

The bulletin considers the problems in detail and offers recommendations for how to go about solving them.

The findings of the Federal Statistics Service show that the number of senior citizens is on the steady rise as life expectancy is increasing and mortality declines. However, when implementing the state policy and practical measures aimed at the quality of life for the elderly, their health problems must be taken into account. Polls show that 43.8% of people above the retirement age needed medical treatment in 2014. However, a lot of them never see a doctor. The reasons behind that are the precedence to self-treatment, the general distrust in doctors, the fear of paid medical services, and restricted mobility.

Some of these and other barriers can be dealt with by expanding the system of voluntary medical insurance and introducing increased standards for the elderly in the basic mandatory medical insurance program.

As more and more senior citizens come to appreciate the dependence of their income on the capabilities of the state treasury, they begin to seek alternative sources of income other than pensions. More and more elderly people are choosing to work, which means there has recently been a marked increase in the number of working pensioners. And it has to be said that it is primarily lack of money that is prompting pensioners to go back to work.

At the same time, some pensioners are motivated by a desire to be more socially involved and more active even after they reach the retirement age. In this situation, decisions about pensions for working pensioners must be taken with the greatest possible care, especially in the light of the fact that working pensioners are becoming an increasingly important force in the Russian labor market, the experts believe.

One of the significant problems with the development and implementation of the state policy on the elderly is that the emphasis is usually placed on the social protection of the elderly people using various mechanisms, including social services, rather than on encouraging the development and use of the potential that the elderly have themselves.

As the population in general keeps getting older and the number of retirement age people is on the rise, relying on the old stereotypes about the elderly entails serious political, financial, and social risks.

For other issues of the social bulletins see Publications.