Staunton, Dec. 2 – Three sets of fears have combined to boost the population of old peoples homes in Russia, Anna Federmesser says, the fear of society at large of anyone who is different, the fear of those who run these places that they will lose their incomes and the fear of those in them who fear they won’t be supported at all if they leave.
All too many Russians want anyone who is different to be kept out of sight, the president of the Vera Foundation which helps hospice residents says, leading not only to horrors of confinement in a medical GULAG but to these people being isolated even if they are not confined (vz.ru/opinions/2021/12/1/1131869.html).
Russians as a whole must recognize that most of those with the problems of aging can live full lives among everyone else and that the society will only benefit if they can be part of it. In many ways, she says, Russians must do with those confined in old peoples homes the same thing they did with the GULAG – recognize that most in them shouldn’t be there.
The second fear that keeps the numbers of up are the fears of those who run these places that they will lose both their jobs and their ability to exploit those in their care. Many of these people are “vultures” and “cannibals” who prey on the weak and who use the media to promote the notion that they are doing wonderful work. A few are but many are not.
Evidence of this comes in the following way: many parents of special needs children regularly express the horrific hope that their children will die before they do so that those with special needs won’t be confined within the walls of such institutions. These parents know just how much “a hell” such places in fact are.
And the third fear, Feldermesser says, arises among those inside who could be released but don’t want to be. These “inmates” know that what little help the state provides them while they are inside will in almost all cases disappear if they are returned to the general “free” population. They simply don’t know how they will live.
With assistance from the government, such people could live far more normal and certainly far freer lives than they do within these institutions, the activist says; but if assistance ends when they leave such places, many of them will suffer even more, becoming homeless or abused by their families or neighbors.
All three fears must be fought and overcome, Feldermesser says. As long as they exist, this situation will be Russia’s “shame.”