Gonsiori 29, 15027 Tallinn, Estonia
phone: +372 626 9301
fax: +372 699 2209
Office hours: 8:30-17:00
The principal objective of the policy for the elderly in Estonia is to promote the internationally accepted principle of Society for All that is based on the consideration that society comprises people of different age groups who must have the possibility to participate in social life, irrespective of age. The policy for the elderly comprises the objectives, strategies and tasks related to the position and living conditions of the elderly.
The policy for the elderly shall focus on the following issues:
Preparing people for coping in later stages of life is one of the basic principles of the social policy of the Government of the Republic of Estonia. The problems of the elderly are closely linked to a raise in the standard of living and a guarantee of human rights. The well-being of elderly people is mainly dependent on their social integration and its most important aspect, self-sufficiency.
An elderly person, as any other member of the society, has the right to be treated with respect and is entitled to privacy, a secure income, housing, safe environment, medical and welfare services, opportunities to spend free time in an active way, participation in cultural life, enhancement of knowledge, and to being involved in deciding important social matters.
As the expenditure on providing for the elderly depends to a large extent on the number of elderly people capable of coping by themselves, it is essential to try to raise their ability to cope. The costs of integrating elderly people into the society are a profitable investment for the society as a whole. Increasing the number of old-age-pensioners capable of working is of particular importance.
The needs of the elderly can and must not be standardised, these depend on the economic situation, sex, marital status, education, biological and psychological age, physical and mental health, and lifestyle. Of importance is devising a flexible service system, which would help increase the number of elderly persons capable of coping by themselves.
The objectives of the Estonian policy for the elderly are to:
- Integrate the policy for the elderly into social policies regulating employment, education, housing, having regard of Estonia’s accession to the European Union and taking account of issues concerning coping, healthcare, mental health, cultural activities and religion, as well as other relevant matters.
- Ensure that the elderly maintain an acceptable standard of living and a status that is equal with other age groups in society.
- Deem it unethical to discriminate people on the basis of their age, promote the political and social participation of the elderly in community matters;
- Raise public awareness on ageing and healthy habit, retaining physical, mental and social abilities that contribute to the prolongation of average life expectancy.
- Help raise the awareness of the elderly on the importance of the self-support movement; promote solidarity between generations.
- Appreciate the elderly for their role in the transmission of their experience as well as of traditions and mental values, and for their role in preserving national identity.
- Preserve as long as possible the capability of elderly people to work in order to guarantee coping with life, as well as to ensure their emotional well-being.
- Create an appropriate environment for the elderly who definitely need assistance (demented or disabled persons) and ensure necessary medical rehabilitation opportunities for them;
- invite media channels to raise public awareness on elderly problems, coping and participation in social life.
In making decisions on national and local government level, as well as in developing social policy, the demographic situation and forthcoming changes shall be taken into account, particularly considering the importance and needs of the elderly.
Central and local government officials shall in their activities take into consideration the needs of the elderly for securing even distribution of the resources between different age groups, including the elderly. The ratio of wages and pensions shall be considered as an ethical, economic and legal criterion.
The state, local governments, the private sector and voluntary organisations shall co-operate in solving the problems of the elderly. The elderly and their organisations shall be involved in preparing decisions concerning the elderly. The state shall support theoretical and practical research focused on the elderly.
Mutual co-operation and assistance are the pre-requisites for successful coping of both old and young.
An elderly person is entitled to support by family. If an elderly person has no family, he or she is entitled to support by the state and/or local government.
In creating a friendly and safe environment for aged people, living conditions are considered. Environment must enable elderly people to integrate into social life, which first of all means increasing their mobility (with the help of technical aids if necessary) and providing price concessions in public transport.
The elderly have the right to live in their own homes and the aged of modest means have the right to apply for the subsistence benefit, as well as for the necessary social services; if an elderly person needs and wants housing services (social housing, activities centres), these must be granted.
Due to rapid modernisation and changes, as well as age-related decline in adaptability, the elderly are a group of people most in need of consumer protection.
Central and local government shall promote the co-operation between the young and the elderly on a legislative level and by providing funds
Discussion shall be initiated on the role of a family, calling families to support the elderly members, paying close attention to aged people who live alone.
Local governments offer support for families taking care of an elderly person at home. Such families are granted social services and also economic support when needed. Likewise, training in nursing and caring is provided.
Valuing and supporting the family as the caretaker of an elderly person, it is necessary to develop the support network (neighbour support, friends, volunteers, etc.).
Consumer protection applies to the whole population, including elderly people (the right to demand instructions; giving advice on the telephone; organising information days, etc.).
The state/local governments seek to promote the accessibility of aged people in physical environment (the telephone and other means of communication) and to increase the mobility of disabled elderly persons.
The use of public transport, moving about in the streets and roads must be made safe for the elderly (expedite getting on a bus or a train, sufficient street lighting, signboards with large and clear letters, etc.).
The elderly are entitled to outpatient and institutional treatment, including special geriatric medical assistance. Medical rehabilitation in order to help old people to cope must be provided for all of them.
The elderly who have difficulties in coping are entitled to welfare, especially to open care services. Its purpose is to preserve for an elderly person autonomy and a home as long as possible. If necessary, the state/local government provides psychological, organisational and legal support for families taking care of an elderly person. In order to ensure optimal care at home it is necessary to appoint integrated welfare workers-nurses.
The elderly are entitled to decide on the help they are provided with.
The need of old people for health care and welfare services must be analysed on both the national and local government initiative, in order to take these needs into consideration in the process of planning social services and drawing up budget guidelines.
Giving advice on health care and welfare related matters must be accessible and free of charge.
Elderly people with difficulties in coping must have access to optimal help on the basis of interdisciplinary geriatric evaluation.
There has to be a variety of medical rehabilitation services in relation to both the quality and forms of services (geriatrics and out-patient wards in hospitals, domestic rehabilitation services). Services provided for elderly people definitely have to include nursing.
Central and local government shall develop and implement a social care system for the elderly with disabilities to partly cover the costs to medicinal products, accessories, sanatorium treatment, transport, communication and in-service training.
Constant assistance shall be provided to them who cannot cope at home and have no relatives, they shall be given a shelter in subsidised houses or welfare establishments.
Healthcare and welfare institutions shall promote in a larger extent the activities of the elderly and, if possible, take account of their needs and wishes.
The elderly, especially those who live alone, shall be explained the principles and possibilities of self-help.
Indispensable social services for aged individuals shall be compensated either on the basis of national or local (government) resources, so that after paying for them the monthly income of an elderly person would not fall below the official subsistence level.
Basic and in-service training curricula for medical
doctors and nurses shall contain comprehensive training on gerontology and geriatrics.
State social security policy is an essential part of the policy for the elderly. Voluntary insurance shall be encouraged, keeping in mind the significant number of people who will become old-age pensioners in the next century and, consequently, restrictions on raising state pensions.
Working above the official retirement age while retaining a tax-free full pension shall be promoted; it is also necessary to create conditions for part-time work
Particular attention shall be paid to the employment of people who are in pre-retirement age with a view of ensuring that they are not discriminated against in comparison with other jobseekers.
Suitable conditions shall be created for more flexible transition from the period of active employment to retirement (part-time employment, retraining, easement of professional requirements, etc.)
The state shall provide social security for the elderly and ensure their economic coping, including:
- providing a national pension for retaining self-sufficiency and a minimum purchasing power of an elderly person;
- on the basis of demographic and economic data, making reasoned forecasts on the funding of social security and planning the receipt of funds.
Elderly employees must have an opportunity to participate in advanced training and retraining courses and to receive other advantages offered by the employer, equal with the employees of other special groups. In creating an acceptable working environment and conditions, as well as in planning work, their opinion has to be taken into account and work accidents and occupational diseases have to be prevented.
The so-called lifelong learning must be favoured, paying attention among other things to geropedagogical questions.
It is recommended to include training in self-help and first aid in the education of the elderly (adult education courses, senior universities) in order to educate elderly people about not only ordinary ageing, but also pathological ageing.
In furthering the activities of the elderly connected with their hobbies, local governments and elderly people’s organisations have an important role to play, the participation of the elderly in the activities of clubs should be incited.
The state/local governments shall promote the preservation, development and utilisation of the creativity and the intellectual potentiality of elderly people. Cultural and activities centres shall create possibilities for the elderly of taking part in cultural life both as active participators (hobby groups) and as the audience (subsidised tickets to the theatre, concerts, etc.).
In order to preserve a healthy life for the elderly, taking exercise including physiotherapy must be promoted, whereas those interested in physical education have the possibility of receiving professional instruction and assistance.
NGOs have an important role to play in the policy for the elderly, in preventive work and in bettering the well-being of the elderly; the state supports the establishment and the activities of voluntary organisations of elderly people.
Voluntary work and the self-help of the elderly are important factors in changing the attitude of the whole population towards ageing, as well as in improving the coping of elderly people, simultaneously reducing the expenses on welfare for the elderly.
As their principal task, the organisations of the elderly and pensioners shall identify the needs and preferences of aged persons, planning activities for the elderly, providing services and other types of help, as well as raising people’s awareness in the field of ageing.
In addition, NGOs shall be motivated to provide counselling for the elderly as consumers and to raise their awareness in this field.
The state/local governments shall involve welfare, self-help, pensioners and other public organisations in discussing and solving the problems related to the elderly.
Carrying out studies and analysing the results is indispensable for organising an effective policy for the elderly and preparing corresponding programmes. Information on the economic, health and social condition of the elderly must be based on statistical surveys, be consistent and accessible for all persons in society.
The elderly are entitled to detailed information about healthcare, welfare, legal and other problems related to them.
The state and local governments support collection of data in as many different areas relating to ageing as possible:
- The effect of biological, medical, cultural, social, behavioural and environmental factors on ageing and the elderly;
- The effect of demographic and economic factors on social planning;
- The development of social security;
- Social care and health care related welfare;
- The autonomy of the elderly and the improvement of their functional abilities;
- The regulation of social security of the elderly;
- The education and training for the elderly;
- The employment of the skills, experience, knowledge and cultural potential of the elderly.
Statistical data relating to the well-being and behaviour of the population must be collected and published according to age groups, also considering the aspect of sex.
The patients of social welfare institutions and other open care facilities must also be included in gerontology surveys.
The results of research relating to ageing and the elderly are to be announced in the media.
The state is responsible for collecting the data and analysing it, but the state can pass it on to educational or academic institutions, but also to NGOs.
Improving the quality of old people’s life can be successful only through the co-operation of different areas of life and levels of the state.
Relying on international experience in the policy for the elderly expedites improvement of the living conditions of the elderly in Estonia.
The Elderly Policy Committee of the Ministry of Social Affairs shall discuss and evaluate all statutory decisions and regulations related to the elderly, and shall make proposals to pass decisions and implement measures aimed at improving the well-being of elderly people as an intermediary between the state and organisations that protect the interests of the elderly.
More experts with a knowledge of old people's problems shall be involved in drawing up regional policy and local government development plans and budget guidelines.
Standards for evaluating the well-being of the elderly shall be developed in international co-operation. As a priority, terminology shall be harmonised to avoid misunderstanding.
In institutions for the elderly, co-operation of different specialists shall be promoted irrespective of the source of financing.
The state shall support and promote the co-operation of state institutions, local governments, social organisations, academic and educational institutions and private organisations concerned with the problems related to the elderly, helping them to arrange interdisciplinary seminars, conferences, etc.
International contacts shall be established for the sake of research concerning the policy for the elderly, as well as studies in gerontology and geriatrics, but also direct contacts between institutions and organisations working with old people and the elderly themselves shall be developed.
The state supports celebration of the annual International Day of the Elderly and of Solidarity Between Generations on 1 October (the date was set by the Resolution no. 36/20 of the UN General Assembly on 1 November 1981).