Awards & Recognition

Learn More

Opt for the hope zone

Thursday, June 21, 2001 The Times of India, Bangalore

Should the lives of senior citizens come to a standstill because they are no longer useful to their kith and kin? Don't they deserve happiness in the twilight years? Most people agree theoretically that they do, but when faced with the task of looking after older people, they back out. The problem is more severe if these senior citizens have physical disabilities as well. The last option often left for their family members is to find old-age homes.

Asha Jeevan, the only old-age home for people with physical disability was started by Sujatha Bhat and Kalpana Mallya. "We started with just three inmates and now the number is increasing day by day," says Sujatha. Because of the increasing number of inmates, they opened their third unit a fortnight ago.

To take special care of the inmates, they have assistants who are trained in the in-house training centre called the Asha Jeevan Home for Healthcare Helpers Services. It is a one-and-a-half-month course where people from economically backward families are trained to take care of the inmates. Some of their duties include giving bed pans, taking them on their daily walks and in general, looking after the sick. Besides having these helpers, Asha Jeevan is assisted by a hospital, Shanthi Nursing Home, as well.

This home has inmates suffering from Alzheimer's, paralysis and other physical disabilities. "This concept of taking in old people with disability is sometimes not understood correctly by most of them and we get people suffering from mental disability coming to us. It is only after we have them here that we come to know of it. Most of the time, family members hide this problem from us. These days we also have many old people suffering form schizophrenia," adds Sujatha.

Whatever the disability, these inmates have one thing in common: they are all here because of practical problems faced by their close relatives. Some inmates have relatives who are old themselves and need the support of other family members. Also the concept of the nuclear family system is responsible for the spurt of old-age homes in the city.

This home is a true home in every sense, because some of the relatives even make requests to perform the last rites. So it is not just taking care of these people for a monthly amount of Rs 2,500, but also performing the last rites when necessary. "We have had 14 deaths till now and some of them have been cremated by us. The family members sometimes lacked facilities to perform the last rites and requested us to do it," adds Sujatha. Call 6638154 for details.