National Senior Citizen day is celebrated on 21 August every year. In India, the population of senior citizens is 104 million or more than 10 crores, according to the Population Census of 2011. The government of India provides many perks to this section of the society in an attempt to make their life easier. Senior citizens have discounts on airfare and train fare, rebates on income tax, and reductions of their health insurance as observed under Section 80D of the I-T Act.
Our senior citizens need to be cherished and celebrated. They were the key force behind bringing advancement in technology, economy, and medicine. It was their hard work and intelligence that brought about our new changes and progress for us to enjoy. This day gives us an opportunity
Yojana Gharat, the founder of SMIT Old Age Home, grew up in the Missionaries of Charity, Kolkata. Yojana Gharat was a social worker for more than 25 years before starting her own NGO. She took in senior citizens abandoned by their families, orphans, mentally unstable individuals, and different people in need of a home and called it SMIT.
When she first started, she took in two senior citizens, but she has managed to provide for around 89 members over time. Only with the help of her daughters, Vrushali Utekat and Mayuri Gharat was she able to hold down this fort. They are the pillars of SMIT, helping it make sustainable, positive changes.
Senior citizen care
Yojana Gharat says, “I am born and brought up from the Mother Teresa Orphanage home. I have seen her working dedicatedly since childhood and this motivated me towards it. She was very dedicated to praying and worshipping work. So, I started working for the needy. I came across many senior citizens who were abandoned by their families and children and needed support. Listening to them and their needs as their body starts to give with age, I understood that there is a need for senior citizen support. As a challenge, I started with the senior citizen foundation. There are were many senior citizens who were-
Physically disabled Mentally imbalanced Morally unsupportable Dependant
They required someone to support them and this is how SMIT Old Age Home and 4 branches started.
The reason behind ever-increasing old age homes in India
Yojana Gharat says, “ The main reasons behind the ever-increasing old age homes in India are -
Pollution Loneliness Diseases - neurological cases like dementia and Alzheimer's
We are motivating senior citizens to visit neurological doctors for treatment. Senior citizens should have future security while being financially independent. Children should ask and be concerned about their parents. In short, you should accept old age accordingly. As the future generation, we must be independent enough to look into our wellbeing and future. Parents invest in their children's future and never plan for their future. This is an individual responsibility to plan their retirement. You cannot always blame kids and children. The number of old age homes is increasing. We generally keep our children for babysitting. Similarly, we should have old-age homes for senior citizens in the form of daycare centers.
Problems for old age homes
Mayuri says, “Loneliness is the biggest concern. And in the end, the family is very important. Loneliness can be due to-
Nonexistence of children Nonexistence of spouse and partner
Loneliness is the biggest challenge. Nobody wants an old-age home and daycare center for senior citizens. They should be happy with their family. This is a reality and we should face this. The government does not have major funds dedicated for the senior citizens in old-age homes. There are many cases in deteriorating stages where we do not know the age and name of the senior citizens. This is the reality. We have to boost their morale and give them new life.”
Yojana Gharat says, “ In covid conditions, the senior citizens gave a deteriorating stage which has led to many problems like illness and death. Senior citizens should be given hope to live and training to live.”
Mayuri says, “Many senior citizens come to us with no desire to live. There are many senior groups who are happy who go for-
World tour Kitty parties Outings Yoga sessions Laughter sessions
Challenges for old age homes
Yojana Gharat says, “I generally tell people that it is the responsibility of the community to support and help senior citizens. As an old age home, we need financial, hospital, and police support for senior citizens. Each and every member of the society, community, and unit should contribute towards the senior community to support them and help them. Just greeting them, and grooming the senior citizen is enough. They just need love, care, and support.”
Mayuri says, “There are projects in schools and colleges for NGOs. There is a campaign for school children where they send their team to take care of senior citizens who deal with dementia or paralysis. We are giving training and certifications to the youth from the campaigns”
(Edited by Dr.Rati Parwani)