The elderly, who are left without family and relatives, are often faced with a choice – to cope with their problems alone or continue their lives in an old people’s home. Deteriorating health conditions often determine the move towards a shelter for the elderly, which is tailored to their special needs.
The Anaseuli shelter for senior citizens in Guria currently has 16 residents. All of them arrived with various stories, but with one goal – to seek shelter. Roza Ghughunishvili is 75 years old, she has been living at the home for four years. Her husband died many years ago, and she has no children; left alone in her house, she dealt with everything on her own, but eventually she developed health problems and applied to the shelter herself.
“I was ill, so before something worse happened to me, I moved here. In the village I have only one friend left, whom I love very much. Earlier, before the pandemic started, I would stay with her for two days, now I cannot do that, but we talk by video calls, we also text each other on the phone a lot and we maintain contact. A lot has changed over the last four years here. The place became more beautiful; we have more entertainment. We have our own vegetable garden and we take care of it, we also have a vineyard, bees and we make marmalade from our garden roses. We now have drawing lessons and brain exercises added, which all of us love. We can’t go outside any more due to the pandemic, so we enjoy these entertainments very much and they brighten our lives here,” says Roza Ghughunishvili.
A three-year project supported by the European Union – “Promotion of Rights Based Social Services for People with Disabilities and Elderly” – began in December 2019, implemented by the ‘Centre for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia’ together with two partner organisations, the ‘Georgian Public Interests Defence Association’ in Kakheti region and the ‘Young Pedagogues Union’ in Guria region.
With the financial support of the European Union, a 24-hour community service at the home was fully equipped with the internet to improve the socialisation of the elderly and help them stay in touch with friends and family during the pandemic. The shelter was provided with laptops, phones and tablets as part of the project, and the beneficiaries underwent a one-month training course to enhance their computer and internet skills.
Maia Gogoladze is one of the staff members at the Anaseuli shelter, and has been working with the elderly since 2014. Maia says that at the beginning it used to be hard for her to work with them because the elderly living in the shelter had various needs and conditions, and often she did not know how to communicate with them. “The EU project helped us to acquire the skills of in-home care specialists. We underwent special trainings on how to provide first aid to the elderly before the ambulance arrives. With the help of these trainings over the years, things are much easier for us, and we have learned how to respond properly. Also, we have been equipped with all the necessary equipment to improve the hygiene conditions of the elderly. With the help of the European Union, we also purchased tables and lockers to improve the personal spaces of the beneficiaries. Even more important, the water system was repaired and now every room has hot running water. Additionally, we purchased two medical beds for severe patients and a medical crane to move bedridden patients,” says Maia Gogoladze.
Svetlana Isaeva is 81 years old. She has been living in Anaseuli shelter for senior citizens for seven months. Her son died at a young age and she raised her two grandchildren, who now live in Tbilisi. She continued to live alone in the village of Dzvani in Guria, but due to health problems she could no longer deal with everyday life on her own – “I have high blood pressure, I also had severe heart problems, and on top of this I have pain in my legs, I could no longer walk, and after moving here I was able to walk again. I have a close relationship with the staff, like a mother with her children. They treat us very well and take care of us. We take care of the garden and the flowers together, and we want to have a beautiful yard. When you are at an old age all you want is a little amusement and peace, and here we have everything for that,” says Svetlana.
The environment improves day by day for the elderly. An outdoor glass pavilion was set up, and tables and chairs were put in the yard so that residents can freely spend time outside. “We, the staff, realised many things, first of all that every human being deserves a dignified life, so every day we try to come up with something new and bring joy to them,” says Maia Gogoladze. “On March 8, to celebrate International Women’s Day, with the joint initiative of adolescents from the ‘leadership school’ and the residents of the shelter for the elderly, a community event was held for women living in Ozurgeti Municipality. Using the residents’ drawings and motivational phrases, greeting cards were designed, which the adolescents later distributed in the municipality, recording video responses for the residents of the shelter. This activity had a hugely positive effect on them. Also, the residents often participate in activities related to garden therapy. For this purpose, a flower garden was planted as part of the project. For the garden, we purchased 30 dwarf roses and 20 carnations which the elderly planted themselves and now take care of,” Maia Gogoladze adds.
Vladimir Aginian is 69 years old. It has been 10 months since he moved from Lanchkhuti to live in the shelter. He says he likes the environment very much: “What was I supposed to do? I had no one left. I do not have a wife or children, my parents passed away, as well as my sister and brother and I came to live here. At least I will have someone to talk to. We often play – backgammon, dominoes, chess, card games. . . Now they brought us brain exercises, and we play those. Before I got here, this pretty pavilion was not there, they put it recently and I like it very much. Some people meet their relatives in the pavilion, and I come here whenever I want to read or rest. We work in the garden, we have a vineyard, fruit trees, we have bees. We are friends with each other and live peacefully together,” says Vladimir Aginian.
The Anaseuli shelter for senior citizens is one of the facilities which introduces standards and approaches tailored to the needs and care of vulnerable groups. The European Union also continues to develop social services in other regions of Georgia, which support and respect the social, cultural and economic rights of vulnerable groups.
Author: Tamar Kuratishvili
Article published in Georgian by Livepress.ge
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