Age: Not an excuse to ignore people
I got involved with HelpAge because older people should help others and raise future generations. In 2010, I worked on the project against bullying in schools where we, as older people, interacted with younger generations.
In 2011, I was a part of Age Demands Action and a delegation member. I represented a group that called for older people's participation in local self-governance processes. At a conference where government members were present, we discussed issues faced by older people.
ADA taught me that older people need to themselves fight for their rights. I learnt that we need to take active part in the election process in order to create a new government that will improve our lives.
No real order in the health system
I have been married to my husband for 54 years. We have two sons and eight grandchildren but they live in Russia.I have had problems with my eyesight for a while, it has been diagnosed as glaucoma and also had cataracts. My husband has lung disease and dilation issues, due to his work. I am a carer as a wife.
It is easy to travel to the clinic but there are long queues and no cloakrooms. When I go for check-ups the staff are not really attentive, they just fill in your card without taking blood pressure. I cannot afford medicine they are just too expensive and often they are not of a good quality. I prefer folk medicines such as herbs, honey or different ointments. I try to get medicine from the municipal pharmacy as there is a five per cent discount for older people.
I am also a member of an organisation called ADRA, which is a part of the AgeNet network. I lead one of the 30 older people’s groups in my region, which is called Viktoriya. There are 12 people in Viktoriya, these are my colleagues, my peers and I can depend on them to look after me when I am sick.
In no way would I say that doctors respond to the needs of older people or carers. Through ADA, I have learnt that we have rights that we do not know about. For example, people over 70 are entitled to some free medical services such as tests. Overall, there is no real state policy to protect older people’s health. We do not feel it.
Lack of health policies for older people
Older people have earned respect through our work and labour because we are war and labour veterans. We want respect and attention from doctors and medical staff, for them to treat us with care and attention and do not use our age as an excuse for not paying attention.
For Age Demands Action on Health, we will meet on 5 April to prepare our demands and messages which we will then present to the Minister of Health. On 7 April, World Health Day there will be a flash mob, public marches and free express tests for older people in Bishkek.
A healthy nation
In order for a nation to be healthy, healthcare services need to be revitalised so that medical treatments are accessible by all. We look forward to improvements and hope that the government will understand and respond to our needs. I also hope to learn about programmes and measures existing for older people, so that we can look after ourselves independently.
Hear more from Vera herself: