Venerable age dislikes loneliness

Who says that old age is a time for rest! A visit to the Centre for Social Services in Minsk’s Leninsky District shows that this isn’t always the case. A pensioner employment club is functioning here, helping elderly people to apply their experience and skills profitably. Natalia Rokmans, the Head of the Social Adaptation and Rehabilitation Department, tells us about this interesting project:

By Yekaterina Dovgyalova

It may seem surprising, but pensioners are the most active group of citizens receiving help from our Social Adaptation and Rehabilitation Department. They always accept our proposals and projects with great enthusiasm and inspiration. Gradually, one-time thematic events have grown into permanent circles and clubs. Our pensioners are so active and really take the initiative. We always take into account their desires and interests and, over the last quarter, classes have begun in five new spheres, creating 12 clubs in all.

The idea of our club entitled ‘Growing Younger in Your Soul’ is to provide elderly people with the chance to chat and visit exhibitions, museums, concerts and various festive events. It helps them maintain interest in life. Everyone is aware that spiritual support is just as important for pensioners as material support; most want to chat — to be heard and noticed. This club is especially good for lonely elderly people who feel lack of attention and understanding. Here, they find everything they lack.

‘It’s never too late to explore hidden potential and embrace new opportunities, receiving positive energy and high spirits’ is the slogan of the ‘Know Yourself’ club. The ‘Attraction’ cinema club is ideal for film lovers while the ‘Needlewoman’ circle promotes creativity through embroidery, knitting, bead-weaving and papier-mache. The Centre also offers lesson in the basics of English language and computer literacy while the most cheerful are involved in the ‘Dances of the World’ club, learning Arab and Indian dances and sewing costumes for their performances.

The skills of needlework can be applied in everyday life while dancing is more for the soul…

Not at all. Our groups take part in district and city events. For instance, recently, Minsk’s House of Veterans hosted a concert dedicated to the 60th anniversary of our district. It featured our dance group and choir.
Our groups arouse interest, are in demand and are invited to various concerts, where they perform with pleasure. Undoubtedly, this is pleasant, since it gives the opportunity to receive skills and knowledge while demonstrating them in front of an audience.

What is the average age of your pensioners?

The age range is wide: from those who’ve just retired to 80 year olds. Our oldest ‘pupil’ is 81 years old and she is engaged in a dance group. She is extremely energetic and active! Men usually attend the choir or study new computer and photography techniques.

Do these lessons change elderly people?

Of course, they do have a positive influence on them. Our lessons help them acquire confidence in themselves and allow them to feel their importance to society. Many find faithful friends within our club and continue to meet up beyond the walls of our centre. Communication positively influences lonely people. The more active you are, the less time you have for boredom and the healthier you feel — in body and spirit. Our pensioners have succeeded in this.

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