It is said that a well meaning gift given with warmth has the penchant to grow on you. Namma Bengaluru received one such Christmas gift in circa 1999. Dr Radha Murthy realized the need for Home Health Services when she had to straddle between tending to her sick husband and attend to her thriving medical career. She decided to take a leaf off her personal necessity to provide a common ground for the aging people of our metropolis. Mr Prem Kumar Raja joined hands with her towards this noble cause and Nightingale Elder Enrichment Center –NEEC was born.
This nonprofit organization was very focused about its approach towards eldercare not to be misinterpreted as an old age home. On the one hand NEEC decided to provide home healthcare facilities where warranted and on the other hand they decided to redeem the elderly from ennui and detrimental preoccupations. A group of earnest volunteers who chose to support the idea worked hard on the concept and decided that they would steer clear from the club culture. As a result, NEEC is doing a splendid job in joining hands with loving families who are constantly on the lookout to keep the elders of their homes entertained, socially involved. The organisation sometimes takes up the responsibility of taking care of them if the family is away on a vacation or is unable to take care of a convalescing senior citizen for some reason. Nevertheless, its main focus revolves around making it an elevating experience for the elderly on a day to day basis.
What started as a pilot venture in Malleswaram (1999) has blossomed as a vibrant teenager, all of sixteen years with aged members who can give a stiff competition to real life teenagers in terms of verve and a zeal for life. Members meet just about on all working days, sometimes twice a day, not merely to hobnob but to participate in the various activities charted out for them. They listen to varied genres of music, share their thoughts and cast their rebuttals when they listen to lectures on a spectrum of subjects from experts, have chat sessions on happenings around the world, play a round of carom or chess, work on crafts and projects, exercise themselves through Yoga or Tai Chi, bounce a ball around besides sharing their experiences and concerns with one another.
Celebration of Raksha Bandhan, Diwali and Pongal help to bring out the integrated flavour of the festivals including the special features across India. Celebrations of birthdays and wedding anniversaries pep up the elders to have fun with their peer group. An occasional picnic, movie or a play, rejuvenate them to tackle with routine life with renewed vigour. Attending a wedding or a function together help them bond better. Comforting fellow members and their families during illnesses and consoling them when in bereavement improve their empathy factor.
Vasantha Murthy, retired principal of Government college in Andhra Pradesh, says, “Ever since I joined nightingales, 16 years ago, it has been a great support for me emotionally. I have had many downfalls but the fact that I am what I am today is because of Nightingales. The physical space or the ambience may not be attractive but sharing our feelings and nostalgic moments with people of my generation makes me feel good.”
Shaila Shanker, one of the center managers say that her hands are always full and happily so when she is working for NEEC for she ends up learning so many things even while casually chatting up the members.
The fact that many of them have been able to overcome depression and detrimental diseases like Dementia and Alzheimers almost as a side effect of their enriching exposure speaks in volumes about the success of NEEC.
Constant additions of branches speaks in volumes about the validity of its existence. Kasturi Nagar welcomed NEEC with open arms in 2000 and Sanjay Nagar refused to be left behind and started its own branch in 2013. Each branch has its own flavour, favourite pastimes and friends’ groups who manage and run the center on a very modest monthly contribution of Rs 250.
NEEC has so much to offer, yet is finding it difficult to cope with the rising demand for trained caretakers. A mix of locals and relocated senior citizens happens to be another challenge because there are so few centers and too many takers. Lack of space, accessibility and mobility has thrown in a wet towel to a promising initiative.
The need of the hour is to encourage the elders in the house to go out and interact with people who belong to their age group. This exercise will help them let off steam, exchange and compare notes, enjoy and help one another, and most of all make them realize the constraints of the changing world. NEEC has made all this possible, if we expect the yeoman services blossom and continue to spread its good work we must address the need of the hour. Hear Ye! Hear all! We need trained care givers and dedicated volunteers to run the show, and yes some space please!
For more details, visit http://www.nightingaleseldercare.com or call 080-42426565.