In my life time, I have been to two homes for the aged as a volunteer with a group of friends. Both facilities were in stark contrast to each other.
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The first facility I visited is located in Hyderabad in a beautiful campus. Back then in 1997 it had a large infrastructure and was centrally located. Although the main gate opened to the main road campus had a very serene atmosphere with a big beautiful garden. The building front was built with large stones giving it a classic look. They had a large dining hall and recreational area. First we were lead into the recreational area where almost all the elders had gathered for tea and to interact with us. We interacted with them and entertained them with songs and music for awhile. We had taken apples and oranges for them along with other items. Although the gathering place was common to both men and women, the residential area was separated into two adjacent blocks.
The impressions that visit left behind in our hearts have been everlasting. After tea many elders went back to their rooms and the administrators encouraged us to explore the surroundings and to see if any of them would invite us to their rooms. The rooms were large and spacious, accommodating 3 in a room. The rooms were built such as to allow maximum natural light. While some were reticent in our presence some were full of life and enjoyed the attention we lavished upon them. Among them was an old German lady who had crossed her 90 and was more than willing to share with us about her love and life. She even shared with us the feelings of the other inmates. Another old man also I remember was full of life and ready to share with us his experiences. We left with tears in our eyes.
It was only after another thirteen years that I had another opportunity to visit a home for the aged, this one located in Trivandrum. A very active and inspiring Doctor had approached our Institute, seeking volunteers to accompany elders on a trip within the city to a temple, a church and a garden followed by lunch. With a decade old memory I got off the bus in front of the facility along with my friends. The elders were eagerly waiting for us at the gate. They had not been out for any recreational activity for almost a year. The elders were more than eager to talk to us and gain our attention. They entertained us with their songs and riddles. Some of them fought among themselves like little children and glowered when we intervened, but soon were holding our hands and walking around. They sure did not want to waste this once in a blue moon opportunity. During lunch, they ate slowly. Among them I was touched by the sight of a disabled man, he could hardly feed himself, with my heart bursting, I ran to him with a spoon and fed him. I could hardly eat a morsel during lunch.
As we returned to the facility, the elders gladly invited us in to show us their rooms and meagre possessions. The poor living conditions broke our hearts, the rooms were poorly lit, damp and overcrowded. There were about 30 inmates and just 3 or 4 staff to cater to all their needs including, cooking and cleaning. The hall that we gathered in was almost falling apart, it was their prayer hall, had images of all gods. They thanked us profusely for the time we had spent with them and waved us goodbye.
On further discussion we were told that the kind-hearted Doctor was working out ways to shift them to a better facility soon enough.
Both these experiences gave us a very close glimpse of one of our greatest fears, loneliness. Loneliness can eat away the soul. There are elders out there who are lonely in their very own homes surrounded by family, but neglected. In a well chosen retirement community the elders can make friends and involve in recreational activities and forget their loneliness.
Care to be taken before choosing a retirement home or assisted living facility:
Infrastructure – senior friendly furniture, spaces and good lighting
Healthy environment with a garden and scope for other recreational activities.
Staff to client ratio, capabilities and training
Access to medical facilities
Study the contract, residence rules, facility’s licensing and certification inspection report thoroughly
Seek opinion of inmates who have availed the facility
Don’t make hasty decisions or fall for false advertising schemes. Seek professional advice and only after complete consideration and verification allow elders to use these facilities. Care finder assists clients in finding old age homes in Chennai and also assists with identifying home care services Chennai. Choose wisely to provide your loved ones with a home-like atmosphere. Do check out for more information at retireathome.com.
Find a healthy community that they can live in by socializing and involving in recreational activities. Keep elders close to family and build healthy bonds between them and the youngest members in the family. Find activities for the elders and grandchildren to explore together, even simple walks together can help them bond. A healthy mind is a happy mind and will eventually keep the body healthy. A happy person is always a joy to be around.