Home for Elders

Excelsior Rakesh

O P Sharma
A unique experiment is underway at Jammu, winter capital J&K State, to provide a common platform for recreation in suitable and clean environs to elderly persons during twilight period of their life. This premier institution known as ” Shanti Rattan Dignity Living ” has recently come up as “Senior Support Service Club and Community living” On the outskirts of City of Temples (Jammu). It is now gradually gaining ground among the senior citizens. We do have recreation centres for children but this club is a welfare step for elderly persons in J&K State.
Noble Mission
This beautifully designed building complex, a sort of recreation home, is located at Chowadhi village on a hill- top commanding nature’s serene view on the Jammu Bye Pass National Highway near Sainik Colony, Jammu. This club is for providing various amenities and recreation facilities so urgently required for the elderly persons. Such suitable environ certainly can take the elderly ones out of loneliness towards life with a bit of satisfaction and decency.
It is a place for meeting, recreation, relaxation and community get-to-gather for the senior citizens enabling them a “tension-free” life. Still in infancy stage, the institution is steadily gaining ground with membership touching nearly 200-300 during the short span. The building complex is spread over 3.5 kanal area having distinguishing features like well-laid garden, sitting space, walk-way, small playing grounds, meeting rooms, a kitchen as well as a decorated hall for rest and recreations of elders.
Curse of Loneliness
It is a suitable place for fighting vagaries of loneliness by providing congenial atmosphere for healthy and happy life at very nominal fee.
Unique Venture !
Conceived and put into concrete shape, this innovative ” home” is work of Usha Gupta, a social activist and Dr Kasturi Lal Gupta, a renowned Gynaecologist and former Principal, Government Medical College, Jammu. As Dr Gupta is very widely-travelled, he conceived and undertook this noble work. This institution was inaugurated on January 21 this year at an impressive function attended by a galaxy of prominent persons and many elderly people who highly appreciated this innovated idea and the institution with well designed building complex as well as provision of basic amenities in community living and recreation facilities under one roof. It is a centre of hope for the elders.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Kasturi Lal Gupta stated that he had been dreaming of setting up exclusive institution for the ever-growing elderly people to provide them suitable engagement, entertainment, a sense of decency as also interest in life. Such elderly people have invariably given their best to the society and now at the ripe age they must be provided congenial environ during the old age.
It was informed that medical facility is also available to such persons at the Lajwanti Medical Trust, Jammu which is offering health care solutions. Those who can not afford can be provided some free service.
Asked about the funding of such progamme, Dr Kasturi Lal Gupta stated that resources have to be raised by corporate sector as well as individuals by providing philanthropic support to ensure sustainable high quality services.
Redouble Steps
Like in other parts, Jammu region too is beset with emerging problem of elderly persons left alone as their children go out for greener pastures within the country or abroad . This new trend of nuclear families has created a state of paradox for old couples mostly left alone to face vagaries of loneliness, health hazards and other hardships. These old persons once efficiently discharged their duties of upbringing, education and settlement of their children but at advanced life they are not properly taken care of rather neglected. Indeed, it is indeed a paradox situation ! The children hardly attend to their elders at the stage of disease or disabilities associated with age factor . It may be pointed out that helplessness and humiliation, whether intentional or unintentional, is a violation of human rights of elderly. The changing social, moral and financial factors too count leading to isolation, chronic ailment or frustration . Loneliness changes the narrative of life resulting in physical, mental, social and psychological problems while the right environment of recreation is certainly beneficial for elderly people. The challenge has to be met efficiently and effectively with optimal public awareness and active social participation
Big Task Ahead
Jammu has few “homes for the aged and neglected elders” but urgent need is now being felt for more such endeavours in view of this growing social problem. With time, the sensitization of the masses of this problem is taking place and it is expected that efforts will be redoubled to rise up to such challenges. To tackle these problems, there is urgency for suitable social security schemes, a network of wellbeing homes, inculcation of spirit of care and respect for the old aged and spirit of service to weak and helpless.
Our civil society-NGOs and even individuals -must urgently step in to lend a helping hand for these noble gestures. Simultaneously, the Government should also come forward to engage in such social security welfare activities. This particular experiment should be made successful so that more such welfare measures are adopted to bear fruit on a wider scale.
( Starline Syndicate Service)