Senior Citizen Homes
A GREEN ZONE FOR THE SILVER-HAIRED
“When grace is joined to wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.” – Victor Hugo.
Surrounded by greenery and centrally-situated is St.Margaret’s Place for senior citizens at the YWCA of Madras, an imposing, semi-circular building, it faces a natural pond fed by an underground spring. When I first came here nearly three years ago there were doubts in my mind about fitting in and putting down fresh roots. Today as I read about the insecurity of ageing loners in the city and the several problems and threats they face, I am happy to be here where the urban city-central location combines with the semi-urban or even rural landscape to give us a double advantage.
Fresh breezes blow all the time easing even Chennai’s regular power cuts. Bright sunshine floods the two courtyards with their pleasant gardens and the common areas around them. The qualifiers most often associated with age like ‘old and frail’ or ‘old and helpless’ do not apply here. One thinks rather, with a smile, of Brigitte Bardot’s quip, “ It is sad to grow old but nice to ripen” —- the senior citizens here are not sadly grown old but richly ripened : most of them are independent and self-reliant and a few get by with minimal help ( the oldest resident is a sprightly 95 !). What life has taught them is shared with others and that brings its own joy of shared experience.
One of the biggest plus points of this campus is that the senior citizens’ home does not stand alone or remain confined to the elderly alone. There are 24 senior citizens but they share the campus with 400 others and staff. From the toddlers in the crèche to the adolescents in the Girls’ Town and the students and working women , all ages are represented; this is a great advantage for seniors to mingle with younger people and the young to gain from learning from the older women they see regularly. When you want company it is available; when you don’t, your need for privacy is respected.
As evening falls and shoals of fish, orange and black, teem in the pond; ducks and geese glide across the water. I close my eyes and sit to meditate and even though I’m just yards away from an arterial road, noisy with life, a silence descends, so conducive to reflection and spiritual regeneration. And tomorrow, once more I will wake to the sweet sound of birdcall in the green spaces that surround me.
P.S. The green spaces remain green but thanks to Revlon, Garnier and Godrej, there are not many silver-haired women around !!
— Visa Ravindran,
Ways to Volunteer?
- Visit the senior citizens, as most of them long for company
- Organize small games and entertainment, like movie nights, etc