Ageing with hope

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: A programme at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) shows that even though people may be in their twilight years, it need not be the end of life. On Saturday, elderly people across the country participated in a fun quiz on the Mahabharata epic, held over Zoom, as part of Sandhya Karanji.

The event is part of Vayomanasa Sanjeevani (VMS) programme launched on World Mental Health Day in  2020 by the Geriatric Clinic and Services at Nimhans. It includes a series of virtual sessions and fun activities aimed at boosting the mental well-being of the elderly.

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Next week, Nimhans will organise a virtual magic show through Sandhya Karanji, featuring US-based corporate official Anand Sharma, who will put up a clown performance.  “We have roped in volunteers to conduct theme-based sessions twice a month,” says Dr PT Sivakumar, professor of psychiatry at the geriatric centre, and chief coordinator of VMS. 

“Most of them are senior citizens, including women aged over 50. They include retired government officials, homemakers, professional counsellors and others who are contributing to VMS.”

These volunteers will be divided into eight groups comprising 20-30 members each, to engage the elderly participants in virtual format.  

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“Volunteers have the liberty to choose the subjects and themes relevant to the initiative. Our aim is to maximise the volunteer base and ensure more members step in to boost the outreach programme at a pan-India level,” says Sivakumar.

The sessions – which could be themed on stress management, loneliness, anxiety, sleeplessness, etc – can go on for up to an hour. 

​“During the pandemic, many senior citizens have been confined to homes. We are striving to bring them out from isolation through entertainment and insightful online sessions. We as senior citizens understand and empathise with fellow senior citizens. It is important to listen to them rather than give advice,” says DC Ranganath Rao, a former industrialist and counsellor.

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