GUWAHATI, March 1 - At a time when apathy towards the elderly makes frequent headlines, a group of citizens have initiated an innovative step to help the elderly deal with loneliness that comes with old age.
Addaghar, a meeting place for senior citizens, is the outcome of a social need so that the elderly population is not silently consumed by social isolation and lack of care.
Housed at Panchabati in Silpukhuri area � at the former residence of writer-critic Munin Barkotoki and noted politician and social worker Renuka Devi Barkataki � Addaghar is an initiative of their daughter Meenaxi Barkataki along with a number of other like-minded individuals that would be run by the Guwahati Jyestha Samaj.
Addaghar was opened today by Anil Goswami, a renowned academician and leader of the popular science movement, along with many other prominent senior citizens.
Addaghar has been planned as a �happy and holistic meeting place for seniors at a central location in Guwahati, where members can simply read newspapers over a cup of tea, meet old friends and make new ones�. It has a Khelghar for indoor sports, Dhyanghar for Yoga and meditation and Akholghar, a functional kitchen.
The Kuntal Goswami Memorial Trust (KGMT) Hospital will conduct regular health check-ups including weight, blood pressure and blood sugar, etc., of the members.
The membership-based setup would offer a discount to those senior citizens who enrol for a year and also to any elderly couple joining together.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting, Anil Goswami and his wife, gynaecologist Alaka Goswami, lauded the initiative and reminisced about their association with Munin Barkotoki and Renuka Devi Barkataki. Social activist Ajoy Dutta said the society needs to discuss more about issues faced by senior citizens.
Often left alone due to family compulsions and other reasons, the elderly have a right to make a new family, meet their friends in a suitable environment and look after each other. A facility like Addaghar is the need of today�s society where people can meet like-minded people and stay away from depression and loneliness that come with old age.
Anjana Goswami, co-founder of Ashadeep, stressed the need to engage senior citizens in regular interaction with children and youth.
Speaking about her motive behind Addaghar, Meenaxi Barkataki said that unlike the West, where people wait for retirement to start a new innings of life, here, retirement and old age means an end of social engagements and fun. �Old age makes people lonesome and helpless. I saw my mother�s condition after my father�s demise. If senior citizens gather at their residence and spend some quality time and engage in some meaningful activities here, it would give me immense satisfaction,� she added.
Addaghar has Anupjyoti Choudhury as its coordinator and Dipayan Bhagawati as its administrator. Others associated with it are Kashinath Hazarika, Minoti Chowdhury and Dhruba Hazarika.