Italy's "adopt-a-grandparent" scheme could provide a cost-effective alternative to care homes for the elderly, and a blueprint for other countries facing similar problems.
Thursday, 14 April, 2005
1455 BST on BBC Two
Giovanna Cucchietti lives alone in the Northern Italian town of Bra.
She has had a tough life. Her father pulled her out of school at an early age to send her to work.
She was married at 30. "At first my husband was kind to me," she says, "but there were other women... and then the beatings started."
Fifteen years later, Giovanna was an alcoholic, on the run from her husband and estranged from her one and only son who was taken away by the social services.
Now, thanks to the apartment provided by the local council, she has a home of her own without having to depend on others.
But Giovanna has been ill and her health is deteriorating.
She knows that soon she will be too frail to care for herself, and dreads the prospect of moving to a retirement home.
Help, however, may be at hand.
Italy is experimenting with "adopt-a-grandparent", a potentially revolutionary solution to the problem of caring for the elderly.
It was hit upon last year when an elderly widower named Giorgio placed an ad in a newspaper asking for a family to adopt him as a grandparent. Hundreds of families replied.
Now social services departments across the country are considering the adoption route.
Giovanna has been paired up with a local family who plan to "adopt" her when she is no longer able to cope on her own.
A local woman, Laura, and her family are preparing a granny flat on the side of their house for Giovanna to live in.
Adopting Granny follows Giovanna's first tentative trips to her new family and home.
Filmed and produced by Daniela Volker
Associate producer: Bruno Sorrentino
Series producer: Kiran Soni
Executive producer: Karen O'Connor