In Russia, the attitude towards the elderly is markedly different from what we see in Europe. And the point is not at all that there is a different social security or a different standard of living. The point is in mentality, in relations between different generations and in the internal state of the elderly – self-sufficient and independent.
For example, in the Netherlands, older people try to stay active until the last day. Do everything that you can do yourself. It is not customary to live there with adult children, and children do not begin to treat retired mature parents as helpless creatures who urgently need a nanny.
Irina Zhurakhovskaya lives in Tilburg and has been working for the social service for the elderly “Active Care” for four years. She has 10 regular clients, most of them are between the ages of 70 and 90, but there are also older wards – under 100. Sometimes Irina has to replace colleagues and go out to other old people. She comes to someone once a week, to someone once every two weeks: it all depends on the physical and psychological state of the wards. During quarantine, her service continues to operate.
You must have your own personal rituals, as well as clearly set priorities in important matters and hobbies.
“Older people in Holland are used to living independently,” says Irina. – And now they are rubbing their hands, laughing: “Yeah, finally our children will understand what it means to live in isolation! And they will ask us: “Mom, dad, what should we do at home in quarantine?” But in fact, they have never been isolated. Even if they live separately from their children, they actively communicate with their peers. What seems to us a disaster, since we are not used to living within four walls, is not a tragedy for them. These are the realities of their lives, to which they have long been adapted. “
What can you learn from your Dutch grandparents? Irina highlights several points.
1. Planning the day and scheduling
You should definitely have your own personal rituals, as well as clearly set priorities in important matters and hobbies. It is worth distributing them evenly throughout the day in order to perform without fuss and stress.
If the old people do not have time to do something or some point ceases to be relevant, they simply refuse this business. And initially they don’t try to squeeze everything they can into their waking hours. They live according to plan and measured.
2. Regular coffee breaks
Dutch pensioners have 5-6 such breaks during the day. It is not necessary to drink coffee, you can also drink tea or water, but the ritual itself is very important for them. Whatever happens, they are sure to be interrupted for a coffee break.
3. Taking care of your appearance and space around
At home, they always look as if they are waiting for guests. Their houses are tidy, light and comfortable. They do this not for someone else, but for themselves. “Their sense of self and desire to be in shape is amazing!” – Irina exclaims.
4. A look at life with humor
“I have a client – my grandfather is 84 years old. His fingers stopped bending, – says Irina. – So he shows me his brushes and laughs: “Ira, I cannot embroider and knit, but how comfortable it is to hold on to the wheel of a bicycle!”
The inalienable companions of old men from the Netherlands are self-irony, the ability to accept changes in their body and condition and the desire to adapt to new circumstances. They replace the old hobby, which is now impossible for health reasons, with something new.
5. Maintaining a social circle
It is narrow for local pensioners, but of high quality. They have accepted regular calls – for no reason. They can call just like that, because although they hear the voice of a friend or share something. They communicate with peers – they play bingo and chess.
Now, during quarantine, they are deprived of personal contacts, but they actively communicate in instant messengers, regularly call friends and family. They also write letters, draw and glue homemade postcards and send them to loved ones. And they are waiting for news in return.
6. Ability to enjoy the moment
“I really like the way they relate to each business and moment of life,” says Irina. – When I visit them, they always wish me: “Enjoy, Irina! Weekends, in the evening, relationships, weather. ” They do not know how and what will happen tomorrow, so they live one day.
7. Ability to get along with technique
Of Irina’s 10 clients, 8 contact her in instant messengers. Half of them went to computer courses, and looked for them and enrolled there themselves. The four programs were installed on the computer by their children and grandchildren. They try to find out everything themselves, because they understand: if you do not keep up with the times, isolation from the outside world will intensify, because ignorance limits.
8. Correct attitude towards the family
Dutch grandparents are helped around the house by social services, and they need children and grandchildren for love. “On the whole, old people here are self-sufficient. Of course, due to their condition, they cannot cope with all household chores, and then we, social workers, come to the rescue, ” explains Irina. – Children, of course, also help them in some situations.
But in their relationship there is no manipulation and a sense of guilt, no one plays as rescuers and victims, but there is an opportunity for joint tea parties, conversations, hugs. There is no drama here that is familiar to many in Russia. Their relationship with children and grandchildren is on an equal footing. “