Have you seen senior citizens lonely and forlorn in parks? Their vacant staring into nothing in particular betrays a number of sad stories. May be they are thinking of their hazy past or insipid future, mulling over the ever gnawing problem – how to keep oneself occupied and getting rid of perpetual boredom haunting them all the time. Instead of just pitying them, can we do something to alleviate their loneliness? Top three tips that come off the cuff are given below:
If the senior citizens you know of are computer savvy having a PC and Internet connection at home, you may enthuse them to become members of some discussion group or the other. There are some Internet spaces where senior citizens can meet and discuss their problems virtually, just remaining in their own houses. They can share a joke, tell a story, read news, get advice on personal issues, find a safe bank scheme to invest money – the list of things they may discuss is endless. One such group on Yahoo is called ‘sss-global’ and to enroll as member (free of course) you may suggest they may contact the author.
Do they prefer to have company of an escort? Such an escort may keep company and take them out for shopping, cinema, restaurant, theater, concert or some exhibition. Membership in clubs organized by Harmony Foundation or the Dignity Foundation in Mumbai or the Heritage seniors Club in Hyderabad are good examples offering such services. This may involve annual subscription and payment of ad-hoc fees.
Senior citizens want to talk. But they get no one to listen to them. This is utterly pathetic. How about entertaining them over phone and offer to listen to them patiently? I am talking of passive listening. No advice or counseling. Just simply listen to what the old man has to say. Say for about an hour on the phone. He may simply want to say how he likes the Cricket match or how his DIL quarreled. Lend him your ears, patience, understanding and some time. You will make him happy and he may sleep peacefully. Society for Serving Seniors, a Hyderabad based NGO has a list of volunteer listeners who listen to seniors for free.
Do you have any suggestions of your own to fight loneliness of oldies? Let me hear from you.
–Dr. Padmanabha Vyasamoorthy