September 2017

Engaging the elderly

Nanjamma Reddy from Mugalur village of Anekal taluk felt increasingly isolated from her community and debilitating health issues restricted her mobility outside her home. Grama Hiriyara Kendra (Village Senior Care Centre), a support centre for the rural elderly, came to her rescue and changed her life for the better.

Nanjamma actively participating in music and bhajan sessions with other elderly in the center

Nanjamma is a 68-year-old woman from Mugalur village of Bengaluru district and she lives with her family comprising of her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, along with her husband. Even though she hails from a well-to-do family, she often felt neglected by her family members and complained of isolation. To add to her problems, she suffered from breathlessness, diabetes and chronic knee pain. She has had to deal with a tobacco chewing addiction and typically consumed 9-10 servings of tobacco every day. Due to her health issues, she began staying indoors and refrained from socialising with relatives.

Inclusive activities

The centre identified Nanjamma as an elderly who could benefit from its activities. The village-based elder care centre was started by the St. Johns Medical College, Bengaluru, in 2015. Initially, she showed no interest in the activities at the centre and would often skip attending the centre. Through the persistent efforts of the counsellor and staff, who would visit her home and counsel her about the benefits of the organisation, she began to get motivated to get involved in the centre’s activities. Soon, she found herself enjoying her time there, telling stories, practicing yoga and singing bhajans.

Change in lifestyle

Through continuous counselling and motivation, Nanjamma has managed to completely kick her tobacco addiction and has become a role model for other seniors at the centre who are similarly trying to quit their tobacco addiction. Since then her health has shown a noticeable improvement. She no longer suffers from shortness of breath and has a renewed confidence in herself. She has become an eager participant in all social activities in her village and has been instrumental in motivating two other seniors from her village to attend the centre. She gratefully says, “The centre has brought back the smile on my face and the life in me.”