Psychological, Cultural and Social Support Activities for the Residents of the Santa Margherita Institute for the Elderly in Rome

Project location: Italy, Rome
Project start date: November 2011 - Project end date: November 2012
Project number: 2011-44
Beneficiary: Associazione Famiglia Domani


The "Santa Margherita" Aid and Charity Public Institution (IPAB) is a shelter and service for the elderly established in the late nineteenth century, located in the complex of Santa Balbina, in the area of the small Aventine. The building complex of approximately 5,000 square meters, in addition to housing about 90 seniors, is composed of several areas that the IPAB rents to non-profit institutions with goals similar to theirs.
Of these 90 seniors (50 men and 40 women), only 5 are currently "bedridden" and all others are self-sufficient. The problem facing the IPAB directors is how to entertain the residents in order to prevent their rapid psycho-physical deterioration.
For this reason, in 2008, the Famiglia Domani Association decided to address this need by renting a portion of the IPABs ample space so as to promote new activities for the elderly.
In these three years, the Famiglia Domani Association has actually started, in its own media room, a monthly film club with its own social get-together, has made its library available for their readings, organized small live concerts, planned leisure time activities such as bingo and other games with their own prizes; organized meetings with youth and families.
But even more could be done and, a new project, launched after a series of inquiries conducted in various countries which show that the use of new media by the elderly has grown considerably in recent years, concerns the involvement of older people in recreational and cultural activities in the context of the new technologies.
The infinite possibilities of new media, particularly the Internet, can help improve the quality of life even in the older population, because they are a venue for communication, which must remain alive regardless of age, since it is a basic human necessity. We are inclined to consider the elderly and modern technologies as being worlds apart, when, in fact, the Internet is not an area reserved exclusively to a particular age group. In fact, the discriminating factor in the use of IT is not age and, once the obstacle of incomprehension is overcome, sheer curiosity drives the elderly closer to these tools. Thus, many initiatives have arisen, aimed at training the elderly in the use of computers because the Internet becomes more important every day and lack of access to the network renders it increasingly difficult to make use of many important services and information. Hence, the Internet can be of use for extremely practical matters, but it can also help them to keep pace with a fast changing world, helping to establish a dialogue between different generations, creating relationships that help support the elderly during a delicate/vulnerable stage of life, in which discomfort and loneliness amplify the multiple experiences of loss, including that of autonomy, health, relationships.
The Famiglia Domani Association project is to promote an activity of psychological, cultural and social support for the guests of the Santa Margherita Institute for the Elderly, especially using the modern methods of communication (Internet, cinema, music ....).

The Famiglia Domani Association intends to setup spaces more suitable for the conduct of activities providing psychological, cultural and social sustenance for the residents of the Santa Margherita Institute for the Elderly. The first of these activities, besides the modernization of the TV room, will be the Cineforum, with the setup of a room dedicated to the screenings of movies and music videos. This is a place of leisure and social gathering that will surely cheer the residents' stay. Another important project is the creation of a multimedia room. The project (with volunteers from Association) also aims to provide the Institute's residents with a training course on basic computing and to have a small computer room where you have several internet stations and a shared printer. In order for the project to succeed, in addition to the skilled human resources, a space suitable for carrying out the activities is required.

The goal of this initiative, which received a grant from the NPF, is to try to involve the residents of the Santa Margherita Institute as much as possible, so as to prevent them from retreating into their own world, thereby accelerating a steady process of psychological and physical decline. Practice shows that older residents in nursing homes, feeling the love of family less, tend to shut themselves out from the world around them and become much more susceptible to diseases such as Alzheimer's or other neuro-psychological disorders. To avoid this, the Famiglia Domani Association intends to pursue the project to engage guests of the Institute Santa Margarita in a series of recreational and cultural activities (cinema and internet in particular) in order to make their stay at the institute/nursing home more pleasant and nurture/re-awaken their interest in life.

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