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Anton Trstenjak Institute
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Allow me to be good to you.
If not me, who else?
If not Now, when?
And if I won’t be good to you,
what will happen to us?

(Elisabeth Lukas)


The area of quality ageing is currently the biggest project of the ANTON TRSTENJAK INSTITUTE. One of the aims of the Institute is to meet the non-material social needs. Self-support groups for elderly people are one of the means through which the Institute is trying to achieve this objective. Intergenerational programmes for quality ageing have their origin in 1987 when the Institute participated as a partner of Ce.I.S., at a 2 year project named "Project-men for elderly people", under the funding of the European programme Phare-Lien. Along with this programme for elderly people, the Institute has been developing and implementing the concept of local and national network of self-support groups for elderly. Between the years 1989 and 1991, the first 50 self-support groups were formed in nine Slovenian regions. In the following years the model of self-support groups has spread all over Slovenia. In the year 1997, the Institute started with development of the Network of self-support groups for elderly people. Two important features of this social network are that it is decentralised and that it is based on volunteer work.

An important achievement of the Institute was the inclusion of this project in "The National Social Protection Programme up to 2005". That programme anticipates that 3% of old people (i.e. 900 groups) will be included in self-support groups by the year 2005. Since the beginning of the nineties, the Institute has trained about 500 volunteers that are now animators of more than 500 self-support groups for elderly people. These groups include about 5000 elderly people all over Slovenia. The group meetings are held on a weekly basis and they help elderly people to reach quality ageing, reduce the problem of loneliness among elderly people and are the bridge between different generations.

The Institute is developing theoretically and practically a modern network of local intergenerational programmes for quality ageing in the area of interpersonal relations. This network consists of seven complementary programmes:

Programme for rising of awareness of all the population about quality of old age and the necessity of preparing on old age - The first step towards better intergenerational relations and good quality of old age is informing all the people from the community. Hence, we introduce to all inhabitants of local community the idea of good quality of old age and of the importance of intergenerational relations and the learning programmes for reaching those two important goals. The information is given through different media: with an informative brochure that is sent to every household, with lectures, with appearances in the newspapers, radio and television. People have also the opportunity to enrol in any of our following programmes:

The course for better relations and communication with an elder family member - Many families have an elderly relative that lives either with them, or independently from them or in an old people’s home. In the present time there is such a gap among generations, that youngsters, people in their middle ages and old people don’t even notice each other. In addition to that, they don’t have the skills for good conversation even in the case when they have the will and they are ready to spend some time for it. Therefore this short 10 hour course is devoted to family members in order to help them to learn how to have good interpersonal relations.

The course for preparing on quality ageing after the retirement - The most suitable time for a person to do something consciously for herself and mostly for a good quality of her own old age, is a year before the retirement. This short 10 hour course is devoted exactly to this matter - to prepare people on quality ageing after the retirement.

The course for better understanding of the younger two generations - This 10 hour course is devoted to the elderly people that feel the need to develop better communication skills for communicating with the younger two generations.

Personal companionship with a lonely old person - Our known poet Simon Gregorcic once said: "Woe to him who resides alone in his misfortune, yet he is not happy if he rejoices in his happiness alone." The roman proverb has nailed down this truth: "Woe to the one who is alone". With our 60-hour programme we are training the volunteers from younger and middle generation for personal companionship with an old person who would otherwise suffer from a fatal loneliness. In 2 years we have trained almost 100 personal companions for older people. Each of them has regular weekly hour meetings with a lonely old person. In fact, many of them are companions to more than one old person. This training enables volunteers and old people that through companionship reach happiness and exchange their valuable life experiences. This way volunteers prepare for their own old age.

Intergenerational groups for quality ageing - A human being is a collective being. In the past the need for a group identity was achieved through the family life and neighbour ties. Current forms of satisfying this need are also numerous interest-, educational-, recreational- and other groups that are united under the technical term self support groups. Intergenerational groups for quality ageing are this kind of groups. In them meet weekly few people from the third and at least two from the second generation. They are connected also with the first generation. Their only purpose is the genuine socialising that prevents loneliness of old people, prepares middle generation on her own aging and unveils the wisdom of life to young people. Intergenerational groups are set up and managed by middle aged volunteers, trained in our 120 hours course. In the last decade we trained more than 500 of them. They founded more than 400 groups in 100 localities in Slovenia.

The local self-organisation of a network of intergenerational programmes for quality ageing in the area of interpersonal relations - We take care of the continuity of the mentioned programmes in the local areas. We establish intergenerational associations on the local level. Their main goals are to care for the efficiency of the programmes and for the development of the local social network for quality ageing and for connecting generations.

All seven programmes are complementary and they together represent the whole of the local network for quality ageing and connecting generations. For the community that wishes to form such modern social network, the first programme is the basic one; namely good organisation of raising awareness in the whole community about this important need and assignment, that we often are not aware of. The second, the third and the fourth programmes are intended for individuals and families. Often the participants decide for voluntary work and for training for personal companionship with an old lonely person or for the leading of the intergenerational group for quality ageing. This means that they decide for one of the two of the voluntary programmes that give the locality the decisive character of good modern intergenerational relations. The local self organisation of intergenerational network joins all the programmes in one wholeness and cares for their continuity.

These programmes were formed on the basis of the increased need - due to the rapid ageing of the population, changes in the family structure etc. - to prepare middle generation on their own old age. The target group are therefore middle age and old age population.

Old age is a period of life that has its own specifics,
but it doesn’t have any less importance and meaning
as any other period of life.
For experiencing old age it is important
that the person accepts his/her own age,
maintains or forms a good interpersonal relationship and that she is personally connected with people from
young and middle generation.


are closely related,
the youth is safely - beautiful,
the middle age years are silently - fruitful,
and serene old age - rich.

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