This Mumbai-based trust is engaging senior citizens to keep them healthy and occupied
Post the age of 60, many senior citizens find it hard to adjust to a Monday morning with nowhere to go. While a fraction of them want to enjoy a peaceful retirement, many others deal with several pressing concerns.
A study by Statista reveals about 37 percent of senior citizens are concerned about not staying active, while about 32 percent are worried about not having a daily routine.
One such senior is Arun Nanda, who retired in 2010 as Executive Director at Mahindra & Mahindra. Presently serving as the Chairman of Club Mahindra Holidays, Arun also dedicates his time to addressing the post-retirement dilemma for his peers.
“Someone with an active lifestyle like mine just couldn’t retire and sit at home. So, I looked at various options. I even had a life coach lay out some plans for me. I figured I needed to keep myself busy and give back to the society in the second innings of my life,” Arun tells SocialStory.
To serve both these purposes, he founded Adhata Trust, which focuses on the psychological and social welfare of senior citizens. The Mumbai-based NGO has over 700 members in more than 12 community centres across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Thane. With members of an average age of 70 years, Adhata Trust claims to actively cater to at least 500 people on a daily basis.
“When my father retired, his biggest concern was to be able to sustain his family. However, when I retired, I found that most people wanted to know how to kill time post-retirement,” Arun shares.
Adhata Trust helps senior citizens do things that they were not able to do earlier while actively engaged in employment.
The trust organises three special activities for its members. The first is physical care that engages members in physiotherapy, Zumba, and chair yoga, where seniors do different kinds of exercises while sitting comfortably on the chair.
The second is art-based therapy, which involves dancing, painting, and other activities, conducted in consultation with gerontologists. According to them, most age-related diseases appear when elders stop doing various functions that keep the body active.
Art-based therapy for senior citizens
The third activity revolves around celebration of various festivals like Diwali, Dussehra, Christmas, and Eid, among others. Adhata Trust also arranges occasional picnics and nature walks, and is sometimes invited by corporates to visit their facilities such as Tech Mahindra once a year.
The organisation also helps members communicate with their children and grandchildren who live in other cities and countries through Skype.
According to Arun, these activities not only keep the senior citizens engaged but also bring them much joy and happiness.
Senior citizens at Adhata engaging in some fun activities
Vijaya Giri, one of the members, says the organisation has helped boost her confidence. "Adhata Trust brings out our hidden talents. It is a wonderful platform to fulfil our dreams and wishes. Above all, it wipes out our loneliness. At our stage of life, friendship is a necessity. We have made many friends through Adhata Trust."
Adhata Trust has two main objectives – one is maintaining community centres and the other is the active plan of constructing charitable homes in Kolkata, for underprivileged seniors.
The organisation is also in talks with a hospital in Mumbai to set up a geriatric centre, primarily to deal with age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, etc. All its efforts are funded with donations and primarily Arun’s savings.
A lockdown of virtual fun
The trust doubled up its efforts during the COVID-19 led lockdown to ensure its members remained connected. It also engaged them in various activities while addressing their physical, social, and psychological wellbeing.
It helped members familiarise themselves with smartphone features and functionalities, including voice notes, daily activities, and online video sessions, among others.
Virtual celebrations of World Elder's Day
Adhata also conducted a few live sessions for its members, which included pen-and-paper activities and online games for brain stimulation. Physiotherapy, dance-movement therapy, traditional Indian dance, special yoga for seniors, and live Mandala art sessions were also part of these sessions.
Volunteers also taught members how to make masks — the first line of prevention to tackle coronavirus.
The organisation also celebrates special occasions and national holidays to lift the spirits of its members. This year, on Independence Day, Adhata organised an inter-generational show to connect the youth with the elderly. It also observed Daan Utsav, or Joy of Giving Week, in collaboration with Mumbai First from October 2 to 8.
Vandana Nadkarni (78), another member of Adhata, says, "During these unprecedented times, Adhata Trust has done a great job of bringing together two generations of our family and has helped to strengthen the family bond."
During the pandemic, Adhata conducted 52 live online sessions for its members and continues to organise them. It received member enrolment requests from as far away as Australia, the UK, and the US in the last six months.
Seeing the success of their digital COVID-19 activities, Arun says, “In the next steps post the pandemic, Adhata plans to run physical centres but also give online access to people, who cannot travel, live far away from the centre, or in other cities.”