Getting together to be hale and hearty

Dhaka,  Tue,  22 August 2017
Published : 13 May 2017, 20:15:25

Getting together to be hale and hearty

With successive governments remaining indifferent to meeting the urban senior citizens' need for making their dreary hours rewarding, others may weigh in. They range from corporate bodies to non-government organisations, writes Shihab Sarkar
After passing a busy, active life many elderly males find it difficult to spend their time. Too many idle hours and veritably endless leisure lead to boredom. A lot of these people pass through bouts of depression. Those living in large joint families can somehow manage to weather the crisis. But many others with elderly spouses find themselves in the soup. With their grown-up children living abroad, a lot of them at times find none to talk to. To their ill luck, many discover themselves at a stage when close friends remain out of contact. Except those tech-savvy, most of them find use of smart phones and internet cumbersome.

With the exclusive social clubs remaining beyond the reach of the average retired people, neighbourhood associations offer a way out. The number of these meeting places for senior citizens has never been noticeably high in Dhaka. Among the community clubs, especially meant for youths, the handful of those catering for old people stand out with their lacklustre features. As the city has yet to be developed into a purely urban one, the educated elderly in general remain left in the lurch. Of late, clubs targeting these people have started to be formed in different parts of the metropolis. But they are few and far between. It's the relatively younger among these old people who take the initiatives to set up their own clubs. Collecting members does not prove to be a problem, as many in a neighbourhood eagerly look forward to these socialising hubs.

The elderly people's clubs are different in nature. In place of loud noises, arguments and counter-arguments, a quiet reigns. The common time-out mediums here include indoor games like cards, chess and carrom boards. Newspapers and journals also enjoy a dominant place among the leisure items. Thanks to these slowly emerging community-based clubs, the urban senior citizens do not have to go through their everyday traumas of loneliness. A prolonged feeling of desolation and detachment leads to myriad types of paranoia and psychosis. They eventually invite a litany of illnesses. Many apparently healthy and exuberant senior citizens are found attacked by cardiac arrests and strokes. Some become victims of chronic insomnia. Socialising beyond the family confines makes a big difference here. It is monotony and ennui that eat away at the very vitals of man. If the person concerned happens to be an elderly one, he is more vulnerable to this psycho-physical affliction than those junior to him. In the days of being consigned to a virtual abyss closing in on from all sides, contact with the outside world can bring a great relief.

When it comes to a healthy survival both mentally and physically, informal get-togethers of the elderly have no substitute. Many opt for morning and evening walks in the open. But air and noise pollutions, security worries etc discourage them. Community clubs can provide a solution by making arrangements for such outings in groups. The younger members can guide them.

A problem may arise from the very beginning: management and supervision of the club. Since its financing comes from donations by the well-off members, a skeletal managerial staff may not be that difficult to recruit. If it is not possible to maintain salaried staff, the still youthful elderly members can take up the management job. Provided that this problem is solved, other requirements keep cropping up. For a specialised club to operate smoothly, a big-screen television, a First Aid kit, arrangement for drinking water etc are basic prerequisites. On being made fully operational, demands for other facilities may arise. With successive governments remaining indifferent to meeting the urban senior citizens' need for making their dreary hours rewarding, others may weigh in. They range from corporate bodies to non-government organisations (NGOs).
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
Published by the Editor for International Publications Limited from Tropicana Tower (4th floor), 45, Topkhana Road, GPO Box : 2526 Dhaka- 1000 and printed by him from City Publishing House Ltd., 1 RK Mission Road, Dhaka-1000.
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