At BMN Senior Centre: Saying thanking you to young magician Harsh from Ponda
By Pankajbala R Patel
WHO says seniors are all on their own? Perhaps the picture is not as dismal as it is painted for seniors have a lot more going for them than one may have perceived. At least it was good news see a 100 odd seniors who had gathered at the social evening organized at the fairly recently opened Basantrai Nihalchand Melvani Recreation Centre for Senior Citizens at Fontainhas on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.
As one of the seniors present, namely Angelo Pais said in his talk, if the government doesn’t reach out to improve the quality of senior citizens — then seniors must reach out to help fellow seniors! As a matter of fact Goa is on its way to making life a more pleasant affair in the last of life years with the formation of several senior citizens groups and formal centres catering to various needs like a place to time pass with friends, play a game or two, read books in peace, engage in some routine activity like doing yoga for better flexibility and circulation…sharing news and jokes about whether the country is heading down the road to further perdition or not!
At the specially organized fun social evening at the BNM Recreation Centre it was a packed session with seniors enjoying a magic show courtesy 14-year-old magician Harsh Samant who had come all the way from Ponda to entertain the oldie goldies in the audience with his tricks — in one act even turning out
2,000 notes for everyone cheering him on to continue with this act! Harsh held everyone spellbound for over an hour with his sleight of hand and other magical acts. He says his learned his magic from a Nikhil Magical Shop in Mumbai long, long ago. Afterwards various seniors spoke on a positive note about their life and times and how they were still good for service to community and country. And hopefully be there for each other! The evening was organized in co-operation with committee members comprising of familiar names like Alka Damle, retired Commander Arun Patil from Vasco, and various members of the Melvani family. Says Raja Melvani, “This house at Fontainhas where my grandparents used to live was going to rack and ruin having been shut up for so long time, and my father would often tell us how his father (our grandfather) would speak of doing something for the lonely plight of seniors as age caught up with them…it didn’t happen during my father’s lifetime but now we are happy to make his dream come true with this senior citizens centre!” They have family volunteers and some staff and a schedule of events have been drawn up for members to avail of — things like meeting a doctor for some health talk, getting together with other seniors and professionals to find solutions for problems if any…or just rest and recreate. The BMN Recreation Centre already gets a footfall of 15 to 18 folk dropping by daily and yes, to become a member a one-time payment of500 is taken. They already have a list of 40 members on their list and from the looks of it the idea is catching on — more seniors want a cosy place where they may go for whatever reason or need for advice and help. Sometimes all some seniors want is information about something or where to get something from.
Amusingly as conversation progressed after the magic show and introductions all around, one learned that Avinash Pai Raiturkar from Margao goes to a seniors center in Margao. Shankar Gopani said a group of seniors meet on a Friday of every month at Models Legacy Club House in Taleigao…. and Manuel Alvares who was the first president of the YMCA in Panaji wished they could have a seniors group closer to where he lived in Miramar! A Jose Carmino from Merces confided he had come for the evening’s social “because I want to help in some way.”
Well, then, here’s some good news for seniors and that is life is not done and over with to rusticate in doom and gloom. The winter of so-called old age arrives for us all but the times they are a-changing and nobody need retire into nothingness if they don’t wish to. They may rise and shine anew with lots of help coming their way with the growing number of senior citizen clubs, groups, places in Goa where they may drop by in search of whatever to be happy!
Senior care services segment growing…
EVEN as more and more seniors look towards growing gracefully and happily by connecting with one another whenever they can it is a fact that health problems like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, knee replacement and a host of other afflictions bog them down. The good news is that there are a lot of senior citizen services and useful equipment available today to make life easier for them to whatever extent it can!
Rohini Gonsalves who is with Sevarat — claiming to be Goa’s first dedicated senior care service — was there at the seniors evening social at the BNM Recreation Centre at Fontainhas to introduce the services offered by Severat. Severat stands for “being in service” and its representatives come to your door to offering services ranging from diagnostics, outdoor assistance, home care, home nursing, palliative care, physiotherapy, counselling, prescription drugs and yes, nowadays if in need one may even hire equipment like hospital beds (to facilitate a patient who needs to sleep at an angle because of various issues like for example acid reflux, also called heartburn), wheelchairs (although Indian manufactured wheelchairs are bulky, heavyweight affairs and not lightly versatile as imported wheelchairs are), walkers, oxygen concentrators, suction machines, air mattresses, orthopaedic products and many other use useful products like bulk buying of adult diapers at an economical rate and so on. Many seniors getting on in years do suffer from incontinence and pads are useful to make them confident and mobile in their wheelchairs when going out of the home.
Making no bones about Sevarat services to seniors were paid for services (be an annual member for a fee of `6,000), Rohini said that on the other hand “We offer dedicated ethically and compassionate services and in care-giving at home our representatives are professionally trained…” Their aim is to be as professional as possible for the services are all chargeable. Of course, only the well-to-do segment of seniors can afford such services or if they are insured their insurance companies may offer some financial assistance (does any insurance offer such help private or public?). But Sevarat can pass on the benefits of discounts when it comes to purchasing surgical, healthcare, orthopaedic products and other things to their senior customers.
Interestingly, in most nuclear homes today the working class young members find it difficult to care for aged patients at home and since conservative society does not yet in India by and large take to the idea of sending their old ailing parents to so-called old folks homes not matter how recommended today — they prefer to facilitate home care services like those offered by organizations like Sevarat. Especially in the case of home nursing, when a qualified nurse or trained attendant is required to attend to the creature comforts of a fully or semi-bedridden patient. In such cases home care offers more comfort to patients then hospitalization and increasingly home care is in demand…seeing how hospital care is expensive in private hospitals, or indifferent and infection-prone in our public hospitals.
After all, even ailing Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar has chosen to be taken care of at home rather than in a hospital! These days if patients can afford it they may even set up an ICU care room unit in a patient’s room and visits to hospital made minimal.
There is also the fact that most folk if they’re terminal and know their days are numbered, prefer to be at home instead of being rushed to hospital to be further traumatized with aggressive treatment which is so often needless and merely an attempt to bill up a patient’s family for whatever reason! Very often we see a dying or terminal patient being put through torturous and repeated diagnostic tests (already done recently) all over again just for the satisfaction of second opinion or third opinion doctors’ referral.