More than 6,000 – that’s how many elderly people in Latvia live in elderly and nursery homes instead of living in their own. Most of these institutions are inhabited by the elderly, the retired and disabled people. The upkeep and co-financing of these institutions have a significant portion of costs from the government’s social spending budget, because most people living in nursery homes cannot pay the entire fee for this service.
There are many reasons why people end up in a nursery home or a social care center. There is a belief that only lonely people, who have no relatives, live in nursery homes. But more and more often living in a nursery home is chosen also by the elderly, who decide to live there voluntarily, so that life would be easier for them and for their relatives as well. The situations are various.
There are those relatives who work, support their families, but still physically cannot provide additional care for their parents, grandparents; therefore, they are forced to admit their elderly relative for services in a social center. There are those, who are completely alone, whose children are far away, or who are out of touch with the rest of their family. There are also those, who don’t have any children, or who’s children are deceased. Not everyone can afford living in a nursery home. Although the conditions in nursery homes differ, all of them provide the basic needs of a human – catering four times a day, clean sheets, access to a shower, supervision of a specialist and access to medicine in most (but not all) care centers as well.
Nevertheless, as in every such institution, spiritual fulfilment and entertainment are important part of their daily routine. It all depends on the activities designed for their elderly residents, and the work and enthusiasm of the institution’s staff. This photography series include a few-hour visit to an unnamed nursery home, which makes one consider one’s life and the decisions we make in various situations.
Have you thought about where your grandparents and parents are?
PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT: ELIZABETH JANE RUBEN