It is 5.15 early morning. It is dark and very quiet. The 3 female staff from the Old Age Home who are living in the Home wake up and start with their first chores. Cleaning the main entrance with broom and water, and the first activities in the kitchen.
5.45 All residents are woken up and everyone first gets to drink a cup of warm water to encourage the digestion. And after this everyone is receiving their delicious morning coffee.
One of the staff members is already busy preparing breakfast and the other two are helping all those who are in need of help with taking shower and dressing themselves. Especially the residents who live downstairs are in need of help. There are 3 who cannot walk or only with a lot of help. One woman is half paralyzed because of a stroke and many are not so capable anymore.
All residents are receiving every day a clean set of clothes. Every day the washing machine is working many loads to wash all the clothes and bed sheets.
At 8 o clock everyone upstairs and downstairs are in the living rooms. Then for 5 to 10 minutes everyone in her own way spends some time in a small prayer or thanksgiving. Who knows for another day with a warm bed, a shower and enough to eat. Everyone in silence to her own god or goddess. Ganesh, Laxmi , Allah or Jezus.
Then is it time for breakfast. Every day there is another kind of breakfast. Different grains like wheat, rice, a local millet made into a porridge or chappati- like breads, often eaten with a little vegetable soup called sambar and chutney.
Medicines are giving before and after every meal. Whatever is the need for the person. There are people with diabetes, with hypertension, with rheumatism, a stroke. And the bill for the medicines can be as much as 100 euros a month for the daily requirements. Of course this does not include the extras like for instance Rajamani who has fallen 2 weeks ago and broke her collar bone. Here there are extra costs like x rays, hospital consultations and mitella.
After breakfast there is the cleaning. Every day the two living rooms are cleaned and every day one sleeping room is cleaned from top to bottom. Everything is taken out and everything is scrubbed and polished before it is allowed back in again. The Home is giving an impression of poverty with all the plastic chairs, and 4 beds in small rooms, but it is always clean. The rooms are smelling fresh, except one of the sleep rooms down stairs (some women are incontinent) and look neat. And all the residents take a shower everyday with clean clothes, combed hair and often some cheap jewelry. Also everyone can use a moisturizing cream for the dry skin and often it is being gently applied by the staff.
Every day the upstairs- or the downstairs residents are allowed in turn to decide what will be cooked from the vegetables which are bought. A vote in what will be eaten today for lunch. And once a week there is a non-vegetarian lunch. Many residents love to eat fish.
A few staff members, with the help of 3 residents after breakfast start with the preparations for lunch. Cleaning and cutting vegetables. The other residents are reading or looking at the TV.
11 o clock is tea time. And after tea the small group of residents with diabetes are getting half an hour simple muscles exercises. This group is more susceptible for illness and with these simple exercises they encourage their bodies to grow stronger.
At 11.45 all the residents are gathering around the few residents who are able to read well. And she is reading out loud from today’s newspaper, telling everyone what is happening around them. Pondicherry, India and at times the world. Questions are being asked and occurrences explained.
From 12.00 till 13.00 is the main meal of the day. Once in a while there are well wishers of the Home who are celebrating a birthday of a child, or the anniversary of a marriage or of a loved one who has passed away by donating to the Home Lunch and/or Dinner. If this is the case everyone comes together in the living room before lunch to say a prayer for the sponsor of this day. Often the sponsor is there and serves the food to all the ladies, grateful for the nice food and the extra attention.
After the main meal of the day it is time for a nap.. Between 13.00 and 15.00 it is very quiet in the Home. Also the staff that has been active in the night to assist the residents who need help going to toilet get so a chance to have an extra rest.
Some residents first read a bit or play a game before also they also stretch out for a nap.
After the nap and the tea which always includes a biscuit or another healthy snack it is time for activities. 45 minutes all the residents are playing games with balls or on boards, or colouring mandala’s to stimulate muscles and hand eye coordination.
Next item on the daily program is walking. All the residents which are able to walk are walking in the streets in front of the Old Age Home. Up and down, he body in movement, 45 minutes.
And then it is time for the moment of the day all have been looking forward too, the TV serials. From 17.00 till 18.30 everyone watches with relish the good or not so good fortunes of the Tamil soap families.
Dinner is from 18.45 till 19.15 and exists out of Chapathi from wheat or other grains or cooked grains with a bit of vegetables and chutney.
After dinner most are again watching television and some are sitting in their rooms and read.
Slowly it is getting time to go to bed. Everyone gets a warm cup of milk. Some are taking a shower and many when they are lying in bed are asking for a bit of extra attention. Royal is often called because a limp or joint is hurting badly and he comes and rubs it in lovingly with a suitable crème. And some just want to say something in private to Royal or one of the other staff.
But around 21.00 it is really time to close the eyes..
Finances per day for the whole house,
for 25 to 30 persons (residents and staff ):
x coffee, tea and milk 20 Euro
x breakfast 15 Euro
x lunch 20 Euro
x dinner 10 Euro
Total expenditure per day 65 Euro