But all these ventures primarily aim at the Gen Y with modern topics in mind. What about the older generation? Keeping this in mind, NGO Dignity Foundation arranges a platform for regular social interaction and support network to the senior citizens, a place to interact with peers and take part in contests and activities, and find friends or companionship while at it. Titled ‘Theneer Arangam’, the initiative is planned thrice a week, says Felista Jose, chapter manager of the project.
“It’s a place to learn new things and recall the best of memories for seniors above the age of 50 years. Most elderly people are plagued by loneliness after a certain age because their children are either living overseas or caught up with their daily jobs, and hardly get a chance to socialise. Here, they meet like-minded people of their age, participate in stimulating activities like Tai Chi, yoga, singing, dance, competitions, talks by experts and so on.”
There is also a throwback to games of yore such as Ludo and pallankuzhi, which the visitors rejoice in, and even potlucks where everyone cooks and brings in a different dish. But most heartening is the fact that many find new purpose to life, says 80-year-old Leelavathy Kumaresan, a retired principal from Chennai who is a regular at Theneer Arangam events.
Both Leela and her husband (84), who were teachers, add that it’s fun for them to mingle with the ‘youngsters’ in their late 50s and 60s. “There are many people who are widowed and feel defeated in life. But they meet new companions here and it’s like they have a new lease of life. We keep encouraging each other to push new boundaries, attempt things we never have, and banish all our regrets.
For instance, many seniors always have a passion for travel. They finally take that plunge now, go abroad, visit exotic places, come and share pictures, videos with the community here, inspiring everyone else to pursue their dreams. That’s what this platform is all about,” she adds.