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    Volume 9 Issue 9 | February 26, 2010|

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Making a Difference

A different kind of recreation

Nusrat Jahan Pritom

"Recreation? My grandmother? No she doesn't need any entertainment. She finds entertainment in lying on her bed and praying to God. All old people prefer this kind of life."

Oh really? Many of you might have heard this said at one point or another, the question is, how true is this? Old folk are hardly given any choice in the matter forget options and opinions. Look at another clichéd phrase: -

"Old people are too fragile. You shouldn't make them take part unnecessary activities, as they are very delicate."

In trying to be overcautious, we can sometimes end up becoming unreasonable. With our busy lives to manage, it is just possible that we 'want' to believe that our old responsibilities don't really need anything else in life other than the T.V (if they are lucky) or the monotonous view from their bedroom window. It is just possible that we would like to believe this because we already have enough on our plates (jobs, kids etc). W are so stressed out with our own lives that we try to make ourselves feel better by telling ourselves that we are at least providing for our old parents and taking them to the hospital when they need it. ''At least I do that, and it shows that I care for them''. But is that all? Do all old people really want to be confined to their rooms, day and night-with only occasional meetings with family members during meal times or family gatherings? What are they doing the rest of the time?

Well, when you see it from point of view of the son or daughter, you will find their reasoning plausible because of the amount of constraints that they face. Many old people are just too fragile and need careful handling. So it's probable that the caretakers at home will shudder at the thought of taking their elderly charge for a walk in the garden-"what if something happens to her like a bone snaps or she can't take the heat or humidity?" Our country is still not familiar with the subject of gerontology and many people do not yet know the system of proper handling of the elderly. So it is a conflict between mental satisfaction and physical well being of senior citizens for which reason old people are deprived of any kind of amusement in their lives.

However, the old age home Arunima, founded by Salina Akhter, has found a solution to this problem. On February 20, Saturday, they organized a picnic for their old inmates in the scenic picnic spot of Savar Military Farm (also known as Savar Dairy Farm). The picnic was open to all. This not-for-profit organization that runs without funds from any donors found it possible to organize such a program with the help of some of the family members of the residents, and volunteer from outside like Nasreen, etc. Salina Akhter spoke to the Star about this.

"We have been trying to do something like this for the elderly for a long time. We did programmes in our house, but for this is the first time we have planned it on a large scale so that the old people can get fresh air of the countryside and find peace and recreation."

The picnic saw a gathering of around 70 to 80 people of various ages, mainly seniors. For assistance of the fragile older people, the home's nurses were present. There were different activities all throughout the day, like races, games, quizzes and cultural programs. The winner of the first prize was an inmate of the Old Age Home who is over 92 years old. At 1.00pm the guests were served with 3 kinds of juices pumpkin, watermelon and star fruit juice that Arunima makes every day, as health food for the residents of the home.

Salina Akhter also briefed us about the Complete Life Plan: Swapnolok , that was on the magazine on June 19, 2009. In the program she said, "We do not want an uncertain future. We want to plan for our old age from now."

Salina shared that she wanted to prove that with proper care and all safeties assured, all kinds of ways to recreate the lives of the old can be made possible. At the end of the program, with the setting sun, Golam Hafiz, a founding member- recited a poem encouraging the elderly to start living their lives to the fullest.

The following day, which was February 21-International Mother Language Day, Arunima took all the inhabitants and nurses of the Savar branch to the Shahid Minar where they paid tribute to the martyrs who fought for the language.

"If provided proper care and given the opportunity, the elderly show a lot of enthusiasm for many different activities," said Salina "They just don't want to be living confined in their homes like jail-birds when they have so much to give to the world.”


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