The actor of the Seveneleven Theater Company, Notis Paraskevopoulos(R) is seen preparing a theatrical play with elderly people with dementia in Athens, Oct. 25, 2018. Songs, laughs, theatrical performances and a group of elderly people smiling and having fun -- This is not a typical picture of everyday life in a nursing home. But it is from time to time repeated in ten geriatric units across Athens and its suburbs.
By Natasha Pavlopoulou, Valentini Anagnostopoulou
ATHENS, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Songs, laughs, theatrical performances and a group of elderly people smiling and having fun -- This is not a typical picture of everyday life in a nursing home.
But it is from time to time repeated in ten geriatric units across Athens and its suburbs.
All that thanks to the "Thallo" (means blossom, sprout in Greek) program. It is a project which started in January this year and is being funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, with the aim to implement and spread entertainment in the elderly care units and to provide the fullest possible information on degenerative brain diseases.
The program is an initiative of the Seveneleven Theater Company, founded in 2013 by actors Notis Paraskevopoulos and Konstantina Maltezou.
"It is a holistic approach to the entertainment of people housed in local nursing homes that gives a strong emphasis on the sensory approach to having fun, through questions and play," Paraskevopoulos, also director and animator of the program, told Xinhua on Thursday.
"It lets people choose the way they prefer to entertain themselves and have a more active role," Paraskevopoulos said.
His grandfather died of Alzheimer, his grandmother from dementia, while his father currently also suffers from Alzheimer. The health problems of his loved ones sensitized him.
"More than 400 to 500 older people are entertained in 10 units in Attica at the moment, while two more units will soon join the program. Our visits are offered free of charge mainly to non-profit-oriented units, but we do not exclude private units," Paraskevopoulos said, noting that "Thallo" program helps people socialize, communicate, and beat their TV addiction.
The units are supported by volunteers, men and women, who contribute significantly to the implementation and continuation of the action.
And the next target of the program's initiators is the extension to cities of the Greek countryside from Easter 2019, in the hope of creating a voluntary network that will support the same philosophy.
Charitable Association Social Care of Moschato "Dionysios Theophilos", in Moschato, a southern suburb of Athens is one of the units visited by volunteers and animators of "Thallo".
Asi Tzouvara is one of the people who live in Moshato's unit. "We are waiting with great anxiety for the day the children of Thallo come. When for some reason they can't manage it, we are worried," Tzouvara told Xinhua.
More than 200,000 people suffering from dementia live in Greece today, and by 2050 their number is expected to reach 350,000, according to Paraskevopoulos.
The artist is also the director of a theatrical play based on the true stories of the people he has met all these years.
Many of them suffer from dementia, but they should not be excluded from the social life due to the difficulties linked to their illness, he stressed. This effort aims to also bring them to the theater, to encourage openness about the disease and help eliminate the fear, he explained.