Age cannot wither their fortitude and poise

‘Self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ are not new concepts in an increasingly ageist society. But the restrictions on movement in public places during the ongoing nationwide lockdown are testing the strength of the social networks (the offline kind) that nurture relations between neighbours and friends in a locality, especially for old people living independently or in care homes.

“We are getting along with the help of prayer and our well-wishers,” says mridangam, kanjira and konakkol exponent Tiruchi R Thayumanavan, 91 years, who shares his home ‘Guru Anugraham’ in Woraiyur, with his wife Kanakambujam, an octogenarian. “We have stopped watching news on television because it’s all about coronavirus, and my wife gets upset. I meditate for long periods, and practise my music as best as I can.”

A domestic worker comes early in the morning to attend to the dish-washing and cleaning, and leaves within an hour. Since the couple is unable to venture out for groceries, a well-wisher prepares lunch gravies and side dishes for them and delivers the meal by 9 a.m. “I make the rice to accompany the gravies daily. By God’s grace, it is our friends and students who are helping out in this difficult time,” said Mrs. Thayumanavan.

For retired professor S. Sankaran, 74 years, the lockdown has forced him to recalibrate his daily movements in keeping with the timings specified by the authorities. “I used to go out for a walk early in the morning and buy milk for coffee every day on the way back. This is no longer possible, so I have had to adjust when I leave my home,” said Mr. Sankaran, who lives alone in a 2-bedroom apartment in Cantonment.

While he usually gets by with a light breakfast at home, Mr. Sankaran goes out for lunch and dinner. “I’m not very upset by the lockdown’s rules, but I do hope things will return to normal soon,” he said.

Unable to meet anyone socially, he has taken to catching up with his siblings and their families, through regular phone calls.

As an academic in industrial microbiology, Mr. Sankaran is interested in the current focus on COVID19. “There are many theories about how it was first transmitted to the human population. But we are still to find a cure for it. I hope we will work through this crisis soon,” he said.

Life continues to be quiet for those in old age homes, where the lockdown has meant a ban on visitors. “Most senior citizens suffer from age-related depression, so they are not really cognizant of what’s happening during the lockdown,” said P. Karthikeyan, who runs Shree Sayee Old Age Home in Srinivasa Nagar.

All the 20 seniors living here are above the age of 80 years, and are being given immunity-boosting food to help them avoid any viral infections, said Mr. Karthikeyan. “We have stopped visitors during the lockdown to protect the health of our home’s members. But since only four or five of our seniors are aware of the world outside, they are not unduly upset by the pandemic or the lockdown.”

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 8:41:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/age-cannot-wither-their-fortitude-and-poise/article31359630.ece

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