According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, 14 percent of the population of the Republic of Armenia - 420,000 people - are over the age of 63.
A 2018 study showed that approximately 14,000-15,000 pensioners live alone in Armenia, according to Anahit Gevorgyan, head of the department for elderly affairs at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
There are 1,210 elderly people living in four state-run nursing homes in Armenia and in the Dzorak Mental Health Center, according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
“About 10 percent of them need care based on their age and health problems. Through the services are provided by the private and public sectors, we care for the needs of only about 10,000 people,” she says.
The government is also working on a strategy to improve the level of care for senior citizens. The document aims not only to improve their social status, but also to create the conditions necessary for the active, dignified and healthy aging.
But for now, Karen and Silva are ashamed about their situation: in Armenia, tradition dictates families should care for their elderly. That leaves few options for people who do not have children or close relatives.
“It is unusual for our people to take a parent to a nursing home. Usually children respect, love and care for their parents, and teach their children do the same,” noted psychologist Samvel Khudoyan.
He said he always tries to reassure childless couples that there is more to life than raising children -- and just having a child is not a guarantee that they will be cared for in their old age.
Khudoyan noted that if the couple loves each other, that is already a good sign. Other positive steps include having a pet and maintaining strong friendships. But many still harbor a deep fear that they will be left to fend for themselves as they get older, he added.