How Georgia can support its ageing population, UN report

Portrait of Mose Mdinaradze, 97 with his great grand daughter. He was called to serve in WWII when he was 22 years old. Photo by N.Alavidze/, 28 Nov 2014 - 19:51, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Government has been offered a helping hand to better cater for the country’s growing pensioner population.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) released a report that stated in 2010, 14 percent of the population (about 600,000 people) were over the age of 65 in Georgia. This figure was expected to grow to about 21 percent (924,000 people) by 2030.

Similarly, by 2030 about 1.7 million people (40 percent of the population) were expected to be over the age of 50.

The UNECE Road Map for Mainstreaming Ageing in Georgia report aimed to guide the country as it strengthened its policy response to its ageing population. The document was officially presented on November 20 in Geneva and its authors believed it was the first comprehensive document to analyse Georgia’s policy on ageing.

Key points of the report urged the Georgian Government to encourage older people to participate and remain engaged in the labour force for as long as possible, encourage non-discrimination and social inclusion of older persons, and offer them dignity, health and independence in older age.

"To achieve a fully inclusive society, a complex set of elements needs to be in place. The living environment is important, e.g. barrier-free pedestrian areas, possibilities to sit down or public toilets,” stated the report.

"Minimum standards of accessibility and safety of housing for older and disabled persons should be elaborated to make public and private buildings more accessible to people with reduced mobility.”

Georgia’s growing population was a result of people living longer than their ancestors. In 2010 the life expectancy of Georgian women was 78 and 71 for men, while this was expected to rise to 80 for women and 73 for men by 2030.

TO accommodate these people, Georgia’s public transport needed to be made more accessible, particularly for people with disabilities and those in wheelchairs, read the report.

In terms of access to health care, the report claimed vital medicines were often not covered by the state-funded Universal Healthcare Program, which made people over the age of 65 "vulnerable to catastrophic out-of-pocket payments”. Affordability and access to medicine should therefore be a priority in future, it said.

Similarly, home-based care should be made available more widely, matching real needs. Complementary geriatric care, palliative care for older persons, places in residential homes and day care centres also need to be scaled up.

"Intergenerational solidarity is traditionally a strong factor as the multi-generational family – ideally with all of its members living under one roof – is a key entity to provide care and support. The main household tasks such as preparing daily meals, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, child and elderly care are mainly performed by women. As more women participate in the labour market and as their perception about their roles changes gradually, men should engage more equally in the household.”

"Public campaigns may be useful means to advocate for sharing employment and family responsibilities more equally between men and women and between generations.”

The report was the result of more than a year’s research of existing policies, contributions from national and international experts, interviews and focus group discussions with stakeholders and intensive consultations on different drafts.