Helping them beat loneliness

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: "Children play with children, teenagers play with teenagers and senior citizens play with senior citizens" says Lakshmi Anand, an active member of Dignity Foundation. It was the monthly get-together organised by Dignity Foundation and clearly these senior citizens have been looking forward to it.

The get together, organised on the first Thursday of every month is open to all senior citizens in Chennai. It is a fun evening with games, coupled with yoga and a lot of pleasant chatter. "It is a necessary for us to interact with others of our age. It lightens our day and we feel less lonely," says V. Seshadri, a first timer at the event. This is one of the many life enriching services offered by Dignity Foundation.

Besides running Dignity Dialogue, a monthly magazine for senior citizens, an important service offered by the organisation is its helpline to respond to distress calls from senior citizens. The foundation has a full-time psychologist and a legal cell. The companionship programme is a unique service, where volunteers spend time with lonely senior citizens.

Mary Rose Thomas is the only full time worker in the Chennai chapter, started in the year 2001.The activities are organised by the members themselves." I live all alone and have nobody. Through Dignity foundation, I have met others of my age, voluntary work makes me feel young again and gives me a positive attitude to life", says Petricia, a volunteer and member. "I don't sit at home and indulge in self pity," she adds. Indu Phadke, the treasurer says "I have always been involved in social service and I wanted to help people of my age who are not as fortunate as I am."

For senior citizens like Lakshmi and Petricia, Dignity foundation has brought light into their lonely lives. The concept of old age homes and help centres like Dignity Foundation is yet to gain popularity in India. "They are very common in countries like the US where loneliness at old age has become a common phenomenon" says Ms. Geetha Kumar, Director- Community Service at Dignity. "Perhaps they will become more common in the coming decade, with more families having busy schedules and little time for the aged" she adds.

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