Setting up an Appointment to Visit the Site
Over the past decade there has been a burgeoning of institutions to take care of the elderly in society. The concept of having an old age home is not new but the manner of creation of these homes as well as the increased responsibilities that have been thrust on them is a reflection of how society is increasingly changing. There are several manners of financial arrangements according to which inmates are taken into these old age care homes. The arrangements vary from self-financing schemes to pension schemes and even social welfare schemes besides donations and sponsorships. Sometimes the degree and level of care taken is same under all circumstances and sometimes there are added privileges to certain categories. These institutions are often run by charitable institutions, religious institutions, trusts and legacies besides having collective funds directed at a specific population by a number of donors. Often they belong to a particular locality or are from a collective similar following e.g the Horse riders Association, the Snowmobile Association etc.
We entered the premises just when breakfast was getting over and all the inmates were just getting up from the breakfast table and heading towards their morning routine. As we watched the elder people in pairs, with their attendants and some walked singly towards their favorite morning pass time. Some of them assembled around games tables where were laid out bingo, carom, chess and cards. The building was having a specific building for administration purpose which included staff such as clerks, cashier cum accountant, nursing staff, attendees, maids and a cook. A medical officer was also there to attend to the health needs of the inmates. A nutritionist was appointed of course on contract basis to look after the nutritional needs of the residents. There were proper arrangements for the comfort of the inmates. The institution was having a tie–up with an NGO working predominantly in this regard. Overall we felt the environment to be adequate as considered for an old age scenario. An old age person ought to feel the safest, relaxed and peaceful vicinity. They have to be taking in with utmost care and attention. The place should be a safe place for them, where they can feel contented.
We realized that the best way to find out more about the institution would be to serve the inmates as volunteers while mingling with them. Once the ice was broken they were willing to talk about themselves and how they felt about their immediate environment.
On Site Interviews
While talking to the institution with some of the inmates it was found that the inmates were quite satisfied with the kind of freedom they had and also the care they were being given. They were mostly elderly people who were healthy in general but had no major debilitating disease or prolonged health condition. They were very content with the provisions of the institution and did not complain at all about any of the components of care giving that they were being subjected to everyday. The institution organized all forms of entertainment programs of music and dance for the inmates and also invited celebrities and guests of honor to address them. Thus, there was some form of excitement available every day encouraging them to stay in a lighter mood and augmenting their zeal to relive their lives.
Some of the women were complaining about loneliness in the evenings when they did not want to go out of their home spaces or rooms and yet were not satisfied with just the television as a companion. They spoke softly of their families, children and grandchildren and wished that they could visit them more often. It was rather sad to feel their sorrow as they sat looking through the pictures of their families and remembering each and every one of them.
Some of them proudly stated how their children and grandchildren had done very well for themselves by achieving high ranks in society. The men seemed happy in their surroundings and said they were enjoying the luxury of a prolonged holiday. All of them had some or the other hobbies like gardening, pet owning, painting or singing vocal.
The staffs of the institution, from the top most to the lowest rung of services provision were highly satisfied with their work in the institution. Among the younger lot there were many which had been adopted by the inmates and lavish treats were held to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or similar happy occasions collectively with the greatest happiness and joy. The institution with all its inmates was a reflection of a little island of happiness whereby the people were living happily despite being truncated from the mainstream.
The comfort of your own home cannot be replaced by any foreign environment. This is the biggest truth of life. Imagine living all your life with your own people around you, having a set, stable routine and then suddenly one day, being forced to move to an alien place, full of strangers and new accommodation. That is definitely a dreadful idea. Moreover, people staying abroad are often left with no other option rather than putting their parents or grandparents in a friendly and familiar environment. Hence, this notion should not be looked down in society. In this regard old age security institutions are doing a recommendable job.
There is always a scope for new development to be provided to the old age home inmates. Apart from food, shelter and medical facilities, old age homes may also provide yoga classes to senior citizens. Old age homes must provide access to telephones and other forms of communication so that residents may keep in touch with their loved ones who are local or even staying abroad. Old age homes can avail day care centers which take care of senior citizens during the day.