News

“60+Club for Healthy and Active Living” – New Initiative of UNFPA Georgia

1 October 2019
Aziko Sisvadze
Photo: UNFPA Georgia/Dina Oganova
 

Before retirement, Aziko Sisvadze was a professor and taught economy to the students at various universities for almost 45 years. Today, at the age of 70 she still tries to keep up with the developments in her field and to feel the pulse of the world. She takes care of her little garden in the mornings, then visits a library several times a week to read new publications. With the initiative of UNFPA Georgia and in partnership with the Tbilisi City Hall, the Union of Tbilisi Multifunctional Libraries will offer a completely new opportunities and service to Aziko Sisvadze and other representatives of the elder generation – “60+Club for Healthy and Active Living”.

“60+Club ” is an initiative of the UNFPA Georgia, which will support the implementation of active aging policy and the improvement of quality of life of the elderly. Other than the pilot municipalities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori and Tsnori, the Union of Tbilisi Multifunctional Libraries, Imereti Youth Center (Kutaisi), Georgian Association of Elderly (Rustavi) and the NGO Civic Initiative (Tsnori) are involved in this initiative.
The idea of “60+Club for Healthy and Active Living” is to be a membership-based club, a space for socializing among the elderly generation, which aims at creating a harmonious and diverse environment for supporting the active and healthy living. The club members will be able to gain new skills and knowledge together with their peers, share their own experience and ideas among themselves and among the younger generations, to plan and arrange various events themselves, and get information about new developments.

“I am as energetic as I was at the age of 30,” says Aziko Sisvadze and hopes that engagement in the activities of the “60+Club” will help her learn the English language. “I want to learn English very much and be able to read literature, search for information in the Internet and contact the foreign colleagues in this language.” Other than foreign language classes, activities of “60+Club” cover many other interesting components: medical physiotherapy exercises (under the supervision of a specialist), computer classes, sports and intellectual games, arts courses, workshops and culinary sessions. The program is based on the international standards and experience of many countries.
Sustainability of “60+Club” is ensured thanks to the partnership with local municipalities, which provide relevant financial, material and human resources to them. According to Sophio Khuntsaria, deputy mayor of Tbilisi, “Tbilisi City Hall expresses full support and readiness to join the initiative of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office and offer the elderly clubs to the residents of Tbilisi, where they will have an opportunity to get various services for active and healthy aging. As a pilot project, it is planned to integrate similar centers in two branches of the Union of Tbilisi Multifunctional Libraries starting from January 2020, which will add more significance to the libraries, and will benefit our users a lot. As you know, currently the libraries have a big number of elderly users.”

 


Meri Lobjanidze
Photo: Salome Tsopurashvili

 

“60+Club” serves the purpose of improving the quality of long life and maintaining physical and mental health, which significantly reduce the risks of developing depression and other problems characteristic to the elderly. It also enables the citizens of older generation to feel themselves as full-fledged members of their communities. Mary Lobzhanidze, who is 62 and lives in Kutaisi, has been engaged in the civic sector for years already, and she underscores the psychological factor and the significance of a dialogue between generations: “there comes a time in the people’s life, when they become less active in the society because of their age, which has an undesirable impact on their living, mood, level of adaptation to the environment. If we offer various activities to the older citizens in consideration of their interests, this will be one of the preconditions for improving the quality of their lives, an opportunity to share experience with the youth.” Mary Lobzhanidze plans to be actively engaged in the activities of the “60+Club”, which will be founded at the Youth Center of Imereti, with the support of Kutaisi City Hall.


Liana Charkviani
Photo: UNFPA Georgia/Dina Oganova

Liana Charkviani, who is 62 years old, has been working as a coordinator of Rustavi Center for Civic Engagement for 4 years. She had a desire to found a similar club herself, as she saw every day that the people of her generation experienced the lack of communication and self-realization. “I am confident that there will be much interest in “60+Club”. It so happened that the people of my generation have somehow stepped aside. I have seen many times in Rustavi and in other cities how the men gather at the central square just to be talking to one another. If there is a place with an interesting program, a computer access and newspapers or magazines, I do believe that many people will go there.”

According to the forecast of the Population Division of the UN, the number of people aged 65 and older is expected to rise in Georgia: the population share of elderly people was 14.3% in 2014, and this indicator will reach 19% in 2030, and every fourth person in Georgia will be older than 65 in 2050 (25.3%). With the same forecast, the average life expectancy will become higher by 2035: it will be up to 80.8 years for women and up to 74.2 for men. The UNFPA considers that the creation and active functioning of “60+Clubs” is the step that will have a significant impact on the realization of human capital, and therefore, will facilitate process of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. “It is of utmost importance to create an environment where the representatives of older generation feel themselves as a full member of society,” says Lela Bakradze, Head of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office. “UNFPA Georgia has been advocating for active and healthy aging policy for years. We are happy that today there is a circle created, where the state institutions, also the NGO sector is involved together with us. We hope that our joint initiative will change the life of generations.”