Monday is World Elderly Day. A look at the care and comfort Little Sisters of The Poor has been providing for the aged

With the major chores for the day out of the way, Sister Philipia begins to look relaxed. Only minutes ago, she was on her toes checking on the elderly inmates of the home for the aged run by the Little Sisters of The Poor on Harrington Road and running back frequently to her desk to attend to administrative calls. The other nuns were just as busy, some going around the city’s residential areas and knocking on doors for donations. “They have retired to their rooms for some well-deserved rest,” says Sr. Philipia. “This is how a typical day is for us.”

These women in white are following the example set by Jeanne Jugan, a Roman Catholic saint of the 19th Century who went the extra mile in serving the elderly. She would beg on the streets for alms that went to support the destitute aged she had taken into her heart and home. Present in 31 countries, The Little Sisters of The Poor, the organisation Jugan founded, follows her model of service.

“With whatever people are led to give us, we run the home. We call it divine providence,” says Sr. Philipia. Their track record ensures steady support from organisations and individuals. As a result, they are able to provide impressive facilities to the residents free-of-cost. Around 80 seniors are housed in 40-odd well-kept and spacious rooms with attached bathrooms. “When an ongoing expansion project is completed, the home will serve 120 elderly people,” says Sr. Philipia. “At present, two people stay in each room. Five rooms afford greater privacy. It’s common for the elderly to slip into depression. Someone with such a condition is moved to one of these five rooms.” The munificence of do-gooders has built the 40 rooms and each is named after the donor.

On the challenges arising from medical exigencies of the aged inmates, she says Apollo Hospitals takes care of all their medical needs, including expensive surgeries. Sankar Nethralaya does eye check-ups and surgeries. Gremaltes Hospital attends to the seniors’ skin problems. Individual doctors also chip in. Students and members of NGOs help out the nuns with their chores. Assistance often comes from unexpected quarters. Says Sr. Philipia, “The inmates don’t have to pay for their stay and care. But some of them, who get pension, make freewill offerings. That is touching!”

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