With Renewed Zest


 

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cared for Smiling faces at Nightingales Elders Enrichment Centre, Bengaluru;

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.

A Century Of Success


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Radha Prathi, June 30, 2015 DHNS

Pioneer A view of the herbal garden at Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama in Nanjangud (inset) B V Pundit.

Looking back Radha Prathi traces the journey of Ayurvedic practice over the last 100 years, by looking at B V Pundit’s contributions and legacy in the field.

Circa 1913, when the world was battling to cope with the imminent first world war, a small temple town in Karnataka decided to launch a war of its own against ill health. B V Pundit, an alumnus from the first batch of students of Mysore Ayurvedic college decided to make use of his education in the best possible way. By then, he had already realised that his maiden venture, the Nanjangud tooth powder had thousands of takers across the country.

Pundit, who was deeply ingrained in the Indian philosophy of medicine decided to make a living out of it while making a difference to the immediate society around him. His talent and knowledge, coupled with dedication and hard work, led to the setting up of Sadvaidyasala in Nanjangud. The institution used Bhaishaijya Kalpana, the science of preparing Ayurvedic medicines, which caters to correct health issues and curing diseases in human beings.

Over the years
The science has handed down prescriptions in which the ingredients, the proportion and manner in which they should be used have been mentioned. Ayurveda also mentions substitutes for some ingredients, in case of non-availability. Sadvaidyasala, which means good and true school of medicine, has ever since been making potions, syrups, lehyams and pills quite on the lines they were made all those millennia ago.

That was the scene 102 years ago; if a time machine takes us through all the interim years and stops at the present moment in time, the story is pretty much the same. Sadvaidyasala, true to its name has been carrying on in much the same manner as it did a century ago, for the simple reason that its foundations are well grounded while its sights are set on serving humanity. When the organisation stepped into its golden jubilee year, it floated a functional centre called Dhanvanthari Arogya Aashrama on the Mysore-Ooty Road.

This centre, fitted with modern amenities, caters to its patients in the genuine old world style, safeguarding the basic principle of service to humanity. In fact, treatment initially was rendered free of cost at this centre. Over the years, the management decided to charge each person a fee of Rs 20 for every visit, which remains the same to this date.

Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama which is an offshoot of Sadvaidyasala, houses a wonderful herbal garden with rare species of medicinal plants, shrubs and trees in about 10 acres of land. The garden is used mostly for collection purposes and is used as “show and tell” material for students who visit them for educational purposes through the year.

Dr Rajesh, Director, production, said that they source ingredients from their native habitats for achieving best results. He added that Sadvaidyasala has steered clear from temptations of altering classical medicinal recipes for the fear of misrepresenting the ancient science that has been held sacred and fool proof for so many years. In fact, he feels if all the doctors who practised Ayurveda stuck to the original format using substitutes only as and when it is prescribed, people who receive the treatment would benefit immensely. They in turn will find it
easier to recommend this genre of medicine to others.

B V Pundit’s heart did beat for Ayurvedic medicine, but he did not forget the hardships that he had to face as a student. Dr Shreekantan, the chairman of the company, recollected how his father  made it a point to employ mostly localites in just about every rung of the ladder at Sadvaidyasala. He made it a point to financially support students who studied Sanskrit. He paid a tribute to his wife by honouring the devotional streak in her by building a bhajana mandira in her name which conducts bhajan sessions to this day.

Down the generations
One other special feature of Sadvaidyasala is that it is a family venture which has seen three proactive generations at the helm of affairs. Recently, the family rallied to organise a function in memory of their beloved ancestor and had invited stalwarts in the medical field like Dr M S Valiathan and Dr G Gangadharan to discuss the relevance of Ayurvedic medicine in present times. This in itself speaks in volumes about the deep faith, love and trust that the members of the family have reposed in the vision of their founder for they have deemed it fit to carry on the good work.

It is said that true success can be evaluated only when an effort or a project stands the test of time. If a century can be considered as a decent passage of time to appraise the contributions and relevance of an organisation to its immediate society and the world at large, then it is time to take a relook at Sadvaidyasala with renewed interest.