Not a grey area

Updated: 17 August, 2019 12:17 IST | Dalreen Ramos |

With targeted services cropping up in the city, senior citizens can now look beyond old-fashioned homes and daycare centres. Here are five newly launched options

Aarambh, a care centre in Thane. Pics/Sameer Markande
Aarambh, a care centre in Thane. Pics/Sameer Markande

For the past four years that Shobha Sachdev, 59, has been stepping into senior citizen care centres in Mumbai for research, she noticed that they provide for all the basic needs of a human being. But there was still something missing — their residents were bored. As a mother of a 36-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy, there was something else that struck her. "All these homes take in the able-bodied. No one accepts disabled senior citizens," she claims. So, she along with Sangita Jagitiani Vaswani and Dr Sundar Kataria decided to embark on a unique model. Read on to find about that and other services for the elderly in the city.

Priya Dutt unveiling the Saanidhaanam model 

Saanidhaanam model

An inclusive space

Meant to be a home away from home, Saanidhaanam is a one-acre space under construction in Palghar and is backed by politician Priya Dutt. It is being built in three phases and the first one is scheduled to be ready by January 2020. Although the price points haven't been decided yet, it has a capacity for 100 people. The first phase will be able to accommodate 14. "However, if someone cannot afford it, we will reach out to corporates to support them as part of CSR. We won't turn anyone away," Sachdev shares, adding that it will take in 60 per cent of people with physical disabilities while 40 per cent will be senior citizens. Elaborating on this cross-section, she says, "It's a common thought to have an orphanage and an old age home under the same roof because they complement each other. Senior citizens have someone to talk to. But another aspect we're catering to are the elderly parents of children with disabilities. It's not right to tell them, 'We'll look after your child and you take care of yourself.'" The space will also provide recreational activities, wellness programmes and medical care.

Shobha Sachdev


A call away

Smita Zankar

Aegis4Seniors is a social enterprise that launched in June last year by city-based social workers Smita Zankar and Manjushaa. "The basic aim was to provide social and emotional care. There was also a need for cognitive stimulation. There might be existing centres that deal with Alzheimer's but our focus is to begin early," Zankar, 52, shares. They have three programmes to offer based on WHO guidelines. While Haal-Chaal is all about making a brief phone call, Sath-Sangat implies that a professional will accompany the citizen to the market, bank or recreational activities. But Ru-ba-ru, a service that has kicked off in the past six months, has the two professionals go over to the elder's home and chat over a cup of tea. They also collaborate with women's groups for group activities. After registration, a thorough assessment is conducted.

Cost Rs 2,500 (initial fee; costs vary according to service)

A real connect

Prasad Bhide

Social entrepreneur Prasad Bhide came up with AajiCare in 2012 because he realised that there was a gap in non-medical care training, other than that available for nurses. Since then, they have established day-care centres called Aarambh in Thane and Powai offering 24/7 nursing care, healthy customised meals and regular activities by a gerontologist. Two months ago, they started a companionship programme. "If we don't keep them engaged, we've observed that it often leads to issues like Alzheimer's and dementia," Bhide, 42, points out. Thus, the agenda is to send a resource person to a household as a companion. "The activities are centred around memory. While we play games like sudoku and carom, we also ask them to share their old photos and tell us about their life journey. We have 10- to 15-minute exercise routines that help in digestion and prevent falls," Bhide adds.

AT Aarambh – Powai and Thane.
Cost Rs 800 to Rs 1,500 per visit; Rs 35,000 to Rs 45,000 per month (all day)

App-y times


Mastering technology can mitigate some of the challenges senior citizens face, and that's where Empowerji comes into the picture. Along with creating videos that train the elderly on how to use various apps, it has hosted over 90 workshops since its launch in June 2018. The company has also launched a service that acts as a facilitator from 9 am to 6 pm. "A senior citizen calls an agent and asks if someone can get their fridge fixed. Our agent will then arrange for it. Though most of us use AI for such services, the older generation prefers to interact with real people," informs founder Aparna Thakker.Guide

Aparna Thakker

Cost '999 per month (Empowerji App); plans start at '499

Do it with dignity


An NGO for senior citizens, the Dignity Foundation was founded in 1995. Their programmes are now spread across seven cities in India. A signature one is the organisation's Chai Masti centres that are essentially aimed at mitigating loneliness. "From Monday to Friday, for two hours in the evening, a resource person conducts structured activities like yoga, board games and dance," CEO Aruna Anand says. Although this programme costs an annual membership fee of Rs 2,000, slum interventions that are based on a similar concept are free of charge. "Depression doesn't discriminate between class or caste. It's CSR-funded and companies often send volunteers," she informs. There's also a helpline number that senior citizens can call on.

Aruna Anand

After about six years, the foundation will host an intergenerational event titled Dignity Generations this month, where youngsters and the elder members will put up a talent showcase at a Dadar venue and will also display art made out of scrap.

ON August 21, 10 am to 1.30 pm
AT Savarkar Hall, Shivaji Park, Dadar.
CALL 61381100 (to RSVP)

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First Published: 17 August, 2019 07:00 IST

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