From Age-Friendly Research to Age-Friendly City and Age-Friendly Regional Network: Case of Tuymazy and Republic of Bashkortostan, Russian Federation
The chapter discusses the development of an age-friendly program in the Russian Federation from the first research stage in the city of Tuymazy to its current state of the regional program with 21 participating municipalities. Background information on the project’s initiation in the introductory section is followed by three parts. In the first part, based on the data of the research phase, we examine conditions that preceded the program and suggestions for improvements made by the city residents. In the second part, we discuss steps and strategies that helped us to trigger and develop the age-friendly project in the city of Tuymazy and beyond. In the third part, we review the current state of the regional program, identify challenges and constraints for its further development and sustainability, and in conclusion, we provide a summary of our analysis.
This paper is aimed at applying and analyzing international active ageing indices in Russia, including the Active Ageing Index (AAI), developed by European Centre Vienna, and Global AgeWatch Index by HelpAge International, to provide the base for cross-national comparison and development of a comprehensive national policy on active ageing. Our research was motivated by the following questions (1) to what extent can the international approaches to measure active ageing be applied to the Russian context and data? (2) to what extent a country’s position in the ranking is sensitive to the index methodology and data used? (3) whether and under what conditions Russia can improve its positions in the active ageing indices? To answer these questions, we estimated the AAI for Russia based on eight data sources and recalculated some of the AgeWatch Index results based on reliable data. The methodology of both indices and the quality and adequacy of the data used are discussed in detail in the paper. The results show that ranking of Russia according to these indices varies considerably from the 65th place out of 96 countries by the Global AgeWatch Index to the 18th place among 29 countries (28 EU countries plus Russia) by the AAI. Nevertheless, both indices draw rather similar pictures of active ageing potential in Russia. We provide some recommendations on how the indicators can be modified to capture some peculiarities of the ageing context in Russia and other countries with similar demographic, economic and social context.
Despite the economic and political transitions, slowly recovering birth rate and low life expectancy in 2016 older people are predicted to constitute a quarter of total population (24.8%) in Russia. People considered old now and getting old soon are 'children of the Soviets', which means they've inherited lack of personal initiative, little understanding of the concept of volunteering, and paternalistic views that the State must provide all for people. Younger older people (60-69) reveal the same patterns of very low civic engagement as the rest of the population (4-4.5%), naturally the rate drops further for older ages. However, older people volunteer more frequently than others for particular organizations such as veterans' unions, local communities and condominiums' baords and committees, religious organizations. This role is supported by public expectations that older people're engaged with their families and homes only (63%), 28% believe they are a burden, however 42% think they're a resource. A number of nonprofits do offer a range of volunteer opportunities for older people.
After the economic and ideological changes of the 1990’s older people in Russia have shifted to become the most vulnerable, poor and disrespected group in the country’s population. However, despite the slowly recovering birth rate and low life expectancy, the older population is predicted to constitute almost a quarter of the Russian population (24.8%) in 2016.
However, so called “people’s universities” have long been part of the Soviet tradition and were renewed mostly for the education for older people in the post-Soviet era. Mostly they are supported by non-profit organisations and offer informal education on a range of topics and crafts. These programmes have proved to be enjoyed by older learners and are recognised to be major contributors to active ageing in Russia. Nevertheless, their numbers and capacities are not sufficient to respond to the variety of needs and interests of older people. At the same time large formal educational institutions such as universities do not usually consider the older population to be a target audience for their programmes.
Nevertheless, some political steps have been made by a few Russian regions. This article reports on a national survey of University of the Third Age-type provision for older people in eight cities nationwide. For example, in the Republic of Bashkortostan a region-wide governmentally sponsored programme, “Third Age Universities for All”, came into operation in 2011. A small survey of U3A students in one city is reported. It suggests that while the programme needs to be amended in many ways, it sets a worthwhile precedent and hopefully will be followed by other regions.
International Perspectives on Age-Friendly Cities
The study of aging is continuing to increase rapidly across multiple disciplines. This wide-ranging series on International Perspectives on Aging provides readers with much-needed comprehensive texts and critical perspectives on the latest research, policy, and practical developments. Both aging and globalization have become a reality of our times, yet a systematic effort of a global magnitude to address aging is yet to be seen. The series bridges the gaps in the literature and provides cutting-edge debate on new and traditional areas of comparative aging, all from an international perspective. More specifically, this book series on International Perspectives on Aging puts the spotlight on international and comparative studies of aging. More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/8818
This article discusses an important issue of older people’s image in the modern world. The authors’ research results demonstrate that perceptions of older people in Russia are quite controversial, but overall are rather negative. Poverty, inadequacy to the modern world (both in terms of life experience and adaptability to the modern life style), passiveness and concentration on the family and home were reported by the respondents as qualities most typical for older people. However, these perceptions change towards more positive ones while talking about older people they know closely and expectations towards their own older age appear to be more of active ageing, active life style.