State Institution for the Elderly – Belarus Photo Digest
By 2020, the elderly will make up one third of Belarus’s population. In the past, they would spend their lives next to their families, taking care of the grandchildren.
It would appear that there is no need anymore for their wisdom in modern Belarusian society, however. The grandparents are now often left alone in their native villages, far from the fast-paced urban lives of their children.
Some seek elderly care. The Belarusian constitution guarantees social welfare support for individuals of advanced age, as well as people who are ill or disabled, and the state currently maintains twenty-three residential facilities for the elderly and disabled. The elderly themselves affectionately call these facilities “warm homes.”
The state typically takes 80% of residents’ pensions in exchange for the services provided. The residents receive the rest (about 400,000 Belarusian rubles, or US$40) as pocket money. While it is not much, residents of state facilities generally have everything they need.
Photographer Siarhiej Leskiec documented life in one of these “warm homes,” located in the Hrodna region.
About the author: Siarhei Leskiec is a freelance photographer whose work focuses on everyday life, folk traditions, and rituals in the Belarusian countryside. Originally from Maladzeczna region, he received a history degree from Belarusian State Pedagogical University.