January 17, 2021
Ageing is a biological process. As one grows older, things get bit tough and complicated. Often the elderly find it difficult to cope and invariably come to realise that they need constant attention, care, love and companionship. Perhaps the biggest concern for almost all human beings, especially in the evening of their lives is: What happens next?
Life for the elderly in their sixties or seventies is even more difficult when they find themselves alone and abandoned with no near and dear ones to fall back upon. Given the gradual disintegration of the joint family system and the evolution of the nuclear families, parents who toiled and sacrificed their prime for their family are at wits end as they realise their children are unable to tend for them.
If living with family and children is ruled out, the options - other than being abandoned and left to fade away uncared for - are limited. Either find shelter in old age homes or ashrams or stay in exclusive private facilities or homes with arrangements to handle the routine chores through dedicated professional help or caregivers.
Among the many facilities committed to care for the elderly at reasonable cost, one of the most trusted and well-managed establishment that promises to be a 'home for a healthy and peaceful retirement living' and vision 'to build a home of love with a family that cares' is: Divina Eventide.
Though well within the limits of Karnataka's capital city of Bengaluru, the spacious and aesthetically built Divina Eventide with green environs is a three-storeyed building with a total of 65 single, double rooms and suites of varying sizes was established on December 17, 2018, off the hustle bustle of the ever busy city on Hennur Main Road, Kannur Post, in Chikkagubbi village. Construction of the third floor has just been completed and interior wood work and fittings is in slow progress due to the present Covid situation, adhering the prescribed guidelines and above all, to protect the inmates.
Backed by Commitment, Expertise
"Divina Eventide was established two years back by the Daughters of Divine Providence congregation of sisters 'to bring happiness to senior citizens in the prime of their life' as part of their mission to 'lend a helping hand in catering to your concerns, thereby setting up your home,' explains Sr Alphonsa Manikanthan, FDP, who is in charge of the home.
The Congregation, founded by Blessed Maria Elena Bettini under the spiritual inspiration of Fr Thomas Ludovico Manini on September 8, 1832, in Italy, has the expertise of successfully running 'Providence Home,' for the aged people as 'a home away from home' and 'to give solace and substance' on Sarjapur Road, Carmelaram Post on the other end of the city since April 22, 2006.
Says Sr Alphonsa: "In keeping with the charism of our order, we have been involved in serving society and have the necessary expertise in providing care to the aged senior citizens.''
Both Providence Home and Divina Eventide cater to senior citizens of both sexes without any discrimination of caste, colour and religion with the noble objective rendering service and make their stay comfortable with facilities and amenities besides companionship of other similarly placed persons.
The inmates are assured of tender care, affection and medical care when needed besides living in a community of caring people. Inmates are assured of a wide range of food choices of vegetarian and non-vegetarian breakfast, lunch, dinner plus tea-coffee breaks besides laundry services with even facilities for self-cooking in rooms. In short, an assured worry-free life sans anxiety of home maintenance, personal safety and security.
Divina Eventide is essentially meant to provide a home to men and women of 60 years and above or senior citizens with means to pay for their lodge and board requiring service of caring people and are unable to cope with the hassles of living by themselves. However, persons with major psychological or mental imbalances or suffering from serious ailments or contagious diseases are not permitted. In the case of couples, one of the spouses must be 60 or above.
Provision for installing air conditioners, television, washing machines and refrigerators is provided in all rooms in Divina Eventide. The rooms are equipped with attached bathrooms, geysers, intercom connections, emergency calling bells, shelf, book stand, table, chair and other essentials. A doctor visits the home regularly, at least once a week, for consultation and arrangements are made three reputed hospitals in close proximity.
"The house strictly forbids tips, presents or any other inducements to any of the staff and offerings of any kind can be arranged for distribution for everybody by the sister-in-charge on special occasions,'' says Sr Ancy, who manages the accounts and assists in the general upkeep.
Boon to Senior Citizens
One of the most active and sprightly inmates, 87-year-old Sylvie Saldanha, is quite happy at her stay. "Senior citizens who can afford to pay for their board, lodge and other incidental expenses as well as healthcare costs, Divina Eventide is definitely a boon,'' she admits while confessing that it is impossible to quantify or fix value for the selfless service, commitment, love and care provided. "My daughters, who visited me from abroad and stayed here for a couple of days, are quite happy that I am in good hands. At my age, what more do I need?''
But, in a country like India, which is yet to establish its own social security system for all its citizens, especially the aged, ailing, destitute widows, mentally ill and other physically challenged persons, the poorer sections of society and the illiterate are deprived of dignity and care as they cannot afford to stay in such well-maintained homes or even find place in old age homes or ashrams.
Food, shelter and healthcare become luxuries beyond most of the elderly, though there are grandiose schemes like Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Scheme, Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, National Programme for the Health Care of the Elderly, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana, Varishta Pension Bima Yojana, Vayoshreshta Samman, Senior Citizens Pension Fund, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and the like besides the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, the benefits seldom reach all the needy at the right time. Old age homes or ashrams run by private voluntary agencies, charitable entities and even governmental organisations try their best, which invariably turns out to be inadequate.
In addition to the myriad problems confronting the country of having one of the fastest growing ageing people in the world. At 110 million, India has the second largest global population of ageing citizens which is projected to increase to 240 million without the basic infrastructure and expertise to support the health and welfare of the elderly who are forced to silently face loneliness and isolation, lack of mobility and ill-health. The demographic dividend of being a relatively 'young' country is bound to become a nightmare if necessary infrastructure and services are not developed with enlightened policies to accord the dignity and care the elderly deserve besides the acceptance of the fact that they are a treasure of knowledge and experience, and should never be viewed as a liability.
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