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Has life improved for older persons in Armenia?

Four years after the adoption of Armenia’s Plan of Action on Ageing, an evaluation team visited the country to assess the situation of older persons and discuss the progress made in the implementation of the Plan with relevant stakeholders. The team visited the residential older people home and a home-care centre in Yerevan,  conducted interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders, including representatives of sectoral ministries, municipal authorities, nongovernmental organizations, the UNFPA country office and elder-care providers.

The mission, performed by a team composed of experts from UNECE’s Population Unit, the Working Group on Ageing’s members from Sweden and the Republic of Moldova, an international evaluation expert and a local consultant, is part of a peer evaluation on the implementation of Armenia’s Plan of Action on Ageing. The Plan was developed by the government on the basis of the UNECE Road Map for Mainstreaming Ageing, prepared in 2011. It provided recommendations on how to respond to the demographic changes and ensure the well-being of older persons.

Armenia’s population is ageing as a result of increasing life expectancy, low fertility and high levels of emigration. 11 per cent of the population are aged 65 or older and the share is projected to increase to 19 per cent by 2030. Care for older persons is widely seen as the responsibility of the family and the need for external assistance is often interpreted as personal failure. There are few care institutions and even less home care providers. Insufficient infrastructure, in particular in rural areas, restricts the independence and mobility of older persons. Little attention is given to the older adult education and training as part of life-long learning programmes.

Progress has been made in mainstreaming ageing into the legal acts and government decisions including the provision of integrated care services, and the establishment of new older persons’ homes and day-centres among others. However lacking financial resources and a dependency on third-party funding compromise the work of all stakeholders. A silo mentality still often predominates, leading to insufficient coordination across departments and organizations.

The Road Map and the Plan of Action on Ageing were important steps to raise awareness for the issue of older persons in Armenia and helped to prioritize ageing-related policies. Mainstreaming ageing remains an ongoing process that requires continuous attention and efforts.