Saaya Pakistan

Those That Came Before Us – Visiting JDC Old Home

Those That Came Before Us – Visiting JDC Old Home
Written by Faizan Niaz

I recently found out that there is such a thing as the Proportional Theory. It surmises that as we grow older, a single day becomes a decreasing percentage of our life. Because of this, each day seems shorter.

What concerns me is not the theory itself, but how the author, 77 at the time, came up with it. What was he feeling, in those twilight years of his life, to think along those lines? How does a day seem at that age?

Or for that matter, why did these thoughts not cross my mind before?

Old Age Homes in Karachi

There are six official Retirement Homes in Karachi.

This number already seems quite low until you realize there are approximately 640,000 people above 64 years old in the city.

While it can be argued a reason for this is co-residence with kin, that, too, has been on the decline recently. What all of this implies is simple: This age-group is often disregarded.

This can be quickly verified with a quick Google search. Dozens of articles on the stories, some of these veterans of society, have to share. How someone’s son left them here as they went to a foreign country, or how they just do not have anywhere else to go.

As the experienced generation, they are often left to figure things out themselves. They are not children, it is thought, they can handle it.

It is a bit ironic that a culture of co-residence fails to see how dependent this age group can be. They have been the providers, the breadwinners, the fathers and sons that many had relied on. It is now their turn to be helped through the perils of age, and yet it is painfully apparent that we are mistreating them.

It was with this thought that SAAYA’s Outreach Department visited the JDC Old Age Home.

Introductions, Morale, and Awareness

SAAYA went into JDC Old Age Home with only one goal, which was to make the inhabitants glad that we came. We wanted them to have a good time, and to feel, after we were gone, content and joyful.

But we did not want this to be one-sided. What we were aiming for was mutual understanding; We wanted them to see us for who we are, which at the end of the day, are people with barely fractions of life experiences, but also to get to know these residents, Who they were, What was their life story? Interests, hobbies, stories, or advice to pass on to us young’uns as we face the future.

Some of the poetry was hilarious.

Then came perhaps the most important part of our plans.


While getting to know these folks is a wonderful experience, what we wanted most of all was to leave a lasting impression on them. To make them understand that they are cared for and not only deserving of all this but so much more. To express our appreciation to them for all that they have done to shape our futures.

This is why we conducted a self-realization session, where we aimed to create a more optimistic outlook in these peoples’ lives. So that they, too, could look at the future with excitement and their pasts with serene nostalgia, rather than view themselves and their situation as a burden.

This session aimed to disregard any negative opinions that they may have and look at life objectively. To see that they had not just lived their lives, but currently living them. That their lives are not on pause. That they had helped God knows how many people, contributed to our lives as we live them now, and deserved appreciation, applause, and all the respect our culture demands.

This session embodied our view.

Disease Briefing and COVID Awareness

We also aimed to dispel misconceptions on certain conditions that tend to plague this age-group. This is because, in our country, there tend to be many rumors of some diseases, or perhaps misunderstandings, that might be off mark.

Besides, if I were in their position, I would want to know more about my annoying niggle, too.

We chose the most common recurring medical conditions in this age group, which included Diabetes, Hypertension, Fatty Liver, and Hepatitis. We also encouraged the residents to confide in us for any questions they may have had and filled in the blank spaces in their knowledge.

People over 65 can have up to a 100-fold higher risk rate for complications in a COVID-19 infection. With this in mind, we got to explaining what this virus is, and how to evade its evil clutches. The guidelines of the WHO were explained to our hosts, and other tips to ensure they had all they needed to know to stay risk-free.

By the time this session was finished, it was almost noon, and these fellows followed an orderly routine in tune with their medications. We had to quicken the pace.

Yoga is great for every situation but more so for the elderly

While giving these verbal sessions was useful, we wanted to leave a physical impact, as well.

For this, two Professional Yoga Instructors were hired, who guided the audience along a routine that would not tax their bodies.

The proceeding minutes were spent doing age-appropriate exercises as these individuals were reminded certain muscles existed.

Speaking of which, more people should try Yoga.

Vitals are vital

There would be little reason to pat ourselves on the back with a “Job well done” speech bubble if we just finished the day with Yoga while claiming to be trained Medical Students. As such, our work was not done.

Our last objective of the day was a regular medical check-up, in collaboration with the wonderful guys over at Dow Dental College Student Association, who hosted a camp for a Dental check-up with us.

We set up a small camp in the home, with equipment and our members as staff that took the vital signs of the patients. For the uninitiated, this entails Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, Pulse Rate, and Body Temperature. Patients who experienced certain issues, such as pain, or wanted advice on their condition, were guided and helped.

Following their schedule, we gave them refreshments for taking the time to stick with us through this and being the amazing people that they were.

At the end of the day, our hosts were – and continue to be – amazing. The atmosphere and reverence does not quite hit you until you realize something: your age is barely a fraction of the room’s average.

Seeing these people, how proud they were of their sons or the different events that had happened in their lives, reminded me that the passage of a day does not matter, no matter your age.

It’s the days that accumulate behind you, and the ones you look forward to, that do.

So, next time I’m wondering what my life might look like in sixty or so years, I’ll just hope I’m smiling.

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