Eight one-year-old V. Parvathy is having a busy Monday, but she complains of unfinished work.
“I usually complete writing a page of the narayaneeyanam by late evening, but today I have managed only half of what I would have achieved by this hour,” says the retired librarian.
If she was upset that the telephonic interview was eating further into her routine, she would not show it.
“Today I had so many calls enquiring about my health and also my fellow residents,” says Parvathy aachi as she is known by those close to her.
Parvathy aachi is one of 29 residents of Anandam, a free home for senior citizens, who were in the news recently for how they beat COVID-19, having recovered from it after treatment at the Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital. What is remarkable is that 25 of them are aged above 70 and have multiple comorbidities.
At present, these 29 residents are isolating themselves, staying at a student hostel a short jog from Anandam in Ambattur. Anandam has 105 residents.
Parvathy aachi recites a list of activities she has been a part of, and they include kanji preparation for the group and helping wash clothes.
Those asked if the COVID-19 diagnosis and the subsequent hospitalisation caused them anxiety answer in the negative.
“There is nothing to worry about; be positive. We have seen many things in life and this phase will also pass. Keep yourself occupied doing things you like,” says N.Saraswathi, who is 76 years.
She is in-charge of planning and coordinating the kitchen activities, including choosing the menu. Away from the home now, she is missing this role. At the student hostel they are staying at, they can’t do any major cooking.
At Anandam, residents are encouraged to take care of the home, assisting in a variety of chores, including cooking, managing the kitchen garden and cleaning. “We have four to five people above 90 years with us and those of us who are healthier than others, take care of these residents. We avoid discussing the latest news, and instead choose to talk about the good old times,” says Parvathy.
Ram P. Mony, manager (admin), says, “Earlier, not all of them would take the instructions seriously, now they do. They would not tell me if they are having body pain, now they have understood the importance of timely intervention. The fussy eaters have also changed, post-hospitalisation, as they know they have to eat healthy.”
Between managing the activities at the Home, Ram would sometimes forgets to take his kashayam.
“Now they are behind me, ensuring I take it,” he says.
Every one-and-a-half hours, residents prepare some health drink — buttermilk, lemon juice and kabasuru kudineer.
“We persuade those who don’t particularly like to take these health drinks to do so,” says Parvathy. She says evening coffee has been replaced with sukku malli coffee. There is also greater interest in acupressure.
Bhageerathy Ramamoorthy, managing trustee of Andanam, says the seniors have been able to come out of the crisis because of the healthy habits they have been following, and healthy food habits among them.
“Now, we have employed a nurse to check on them regularly. Thrice a day I call them, plus they have the doctor calling them. It’s a big joint family and this continues at the new place we have rented for a month,” she says.
These seniors point out that they have always taken the necessary precautions, but now they wouldn’t mind erring on the side of caution.
Masks are a must even when one is sitting in the room and talking to a person in the next bed. They take turns to walk in the common area.