Tag: Health & Well Being

Walking Again

Walking Again

Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” Indeed, old age is a state of mind and if we choose so, we can retain our youthful outlook at any age. Amitabh Bachchan is perhaps the best example of someone who has kept living life to its fullest in spite of being on the wrong side of 60 and suffering several health problems that accompany aging. When he can do it, why can’t you? Of course you can. The good news is that advances in medical science have made it much easier to beat the health issues associated with old age. Take Arundati Khandkar, 65, a resident of Vartak Nagar. Arundati was suffering from severe knee arthritis and was grossly disabled for the past 20 years, during which she tried every possible treatment but with little success. Arundati had deformed knees that immobilised her almost completely. But today she is back on her two feet and is up and walking as normally as she did during her younger days.

The secret of Arundati’s newfound abilities in her legs is the new ‘knee replacement surgery’, a treatment that is becoming increasingly popular amongst the masses. In fact even former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee opted for it a few years back. After suffering for
years Arundati finally decided to consult Dr Sanjeev Jain, a Joint Replacement and Hip Resurfacing Surgeon, who recommended and then carried out a specialised Rotating Platform Flex (RPF) knee replacement surgery on her.

Arthritis of the knees is the world’s leading cause of disability. Besides being painful, it leads to difficulty in walking, reduced bending of knee, inability to sit cross-legged, and general immobility. RPF knee system is designed to provide high knee flexion. The conventional fixed bearing knee provides 100 degrees of flexion, which is not enough for everyday activities. The RPF knee is specially designed to safely accommodate up to 155 degrees of flexion in patients. This means that with appropriate rehabilitation, a patient can resume an active life style after total knee replacement – in other words, the patient can bend the knee enough to be able to carry out recreational, religious and other day-to-day activities such as prolonged kneeling, squatting and cross-legged sitting.

It’s not just the design but also the surgical technique that plays a role in enabling higher degree of flexion. According to Dr Jain, “Gone are the days when patients hesitated to get knee replacement done due to reduced knee bending after knee replacement. The RPF design and
the surgical technique will change the scenario of total knee replacement.” It is fortunate for residents of our city that such advanced treatment is now being offered by surgeons in here. Thanks to the RPF knee replacement remedy, Thaneites will age gracefully. Perhaps TMC should plan more Nana-Nani parks as we can expect an increase in the number of grandparents who will be out and about taking morning and evening walks.

Conquering Cancer

Conquering Cancer

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases in the world. Yet, it remains widely prevalent across the world. What’s disturbing is that in spite of significant advances in the understanding of cancer and its treatment, the combined death rate from all cancers is not dramatically different than what it was 25 years ago. The causes of most cancers are still unknown, although occurrence increases with age and multiple risk factors have been identified.

For the uninitiated, cancer is a disease of tiny building blocks called cells. Ordinarily, cell division takes place in an orderly and controlled manner. But for some reason, if this process gets out of control and the cells continue to divide, a lump called "tumour" develops. Tumours can be either benign or malignant. Unlike benign tumours, which are not life threatening, malignant tumours invade and damage nearby tissues and organs causing what is known as cancer.

According to the Cancer Aid and Research Foundation, an Indian charitable organisation, it is estimated that approximately one million new cancer cases will be recorded every year and at any given time there will be three million cancer patients in India. Other statistics suggest that one in every 12 Indians is expected to get some form of cancer before they reach the age of 64. With such alarming rates, it is sad that there is so little awareness among the general public about cancer.

An awareness programme on cancer was recently hosted by the New Bengal Club of Thane (NBC), which is a socio-cultural association that organises a number of welfare and developmental activities for the benefit of the society. About 75 people aged between 20 and 70 turned up at the Little Flower School auditorium in Lok Puram to listen to eminent oncologist Dr Shantikumar Chivate, who gave an informative slideshow and talk on cancer and its possible causes. Dr Chivate’s address was lucid and witty and most importantly, gave hope to people. "Cancer is an educational illness, not a dreaded illness. If detected early, cancer is completely curable," he said.

He elaborated on the signs of early detection that include issues like wounds not healing, uncontrollable blood discharges, beauty spots or warts growing in size, loss of appetite, change in voice, persistent cough, any change in bowels and any other abnormalities. He emphasised the terrifying role of tobacco as one of the biggest causes of cancers. Sixty per cent of all cancers in India are causes by smoking or chewing tobacco. Cancer of the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, pharynx, larynx, lungs and oesophagus are the result of consuming tobacco in some form or the other. An interesting titbit was that if a person smokes 10 cigarettes a day, then as a result of passive inhalation, his family smokes three. Dr Chivate is known to be a crusader against tobacco addiction and is the President of TASK, an NGO promoting tobacco de-addiction.

When someone from the audience asked Dr Chivate to explain lung cancer in patients who do not smoke, he said that cancer cells are present in all of our bodies and factors such as air pollution and exposure to harmful chemicals can also trigger cancer. Later, he elaborated on cancers specific to men and women and highlighted major risk groups, the different grades in cancer and how to prevent cancer. He said that unlike many of our foreign counterparts, we Indians are less likely to suffer from skin cancers caused by exposure to sunlight because of the high level of melanin.

After his presentation, one thing was clear — that cancer is indeed an educational illness and its prevalence and incidence can be greatly reduced if enough awareness is created. But awareness is just the first step: finally, it is up to every individual to conquer cancer by giving up self-defeating lifestyles.

Policing cop’s health

Policing cop’s health

Stress is a known killer. Physicians often trace sickness and other physical health problems to psychological reasons, occupational stress being the most widespread and lethal of them. And the occupation that is among the most stressful is police work. Just consider the work that police personnel are involved in and you won’t envy them. Crime and violence surround them and they are always needed in ominous situations. While police workforce is trained for the job, we often forget that they are only human and are not immune from the horrors, conflicts and miseries that they are required to deal with daily. Because they work long hours in disagreeable circumstances and under tremendous pressure, it takes a toll on their emotional and physical health. The recent spate of suicides by police officers and constables as well as police crimes are evidence of the enormous stress that these public protectors are undergoing. To add to this, resources available to them are hardly worth talking about. So last week, it was welcome change when the police force of Thane got a dose of good health and sound advice at a health check-up camp.

On the morning of July 14, about 120 police personnel across ranks gathered along with their families at the Police Health Centre located near the old police commissioner’s office opposite in Thane. Thane’s Commissioner of Police, D Shivanandan inaugurated a diabetes centre for the police force. This was followed by a general check up and diabetes and lipid-profile estimation of police personnel and their families. Shivanandan also took the tests. It wasn’t surprising that 28 per cent of those tested returned higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Diabetes is one of the most common stress-related disease and India is supposedly the world headquarter for diabetes.

In his address, Shivanandan advised his force to exercise control over their diet and also recommended a change in their lifestyle in order to be able to remain healthy and deal with the profession’s demanding requirements. Shivanandan hinted at starting a hospital for the force soon.

The camp, which was organised by the Welfare Department of Police in association with a pharmaceutical company and a local NGO, distributed free medicines that would last for a month. But the camp’s benefit will last longer than that. Monthly blood glucose estimation for the next 12 months and a full-year quota of medicines will be provided the police free of cost.

Doctors concur that in the case of diabetes, early detection is important as the disease leads to several complications such as heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure, along with circulatory problems that can result in amputations. With high incidence of diabetes in India and its relationship with stress, the regular blood sugar estimations are a small but significant step towards acknowledging the police personnel’s woes and keeping in mind that their human too. After all, the police force’s health needs to be policed too!

Ignorance is not bliss

Ignorance is not bliss

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for women aged 40-59. Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 13 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer. Breast cancer accounts for 20 per cent of the total cancer-related diseases in India and is largely prevalent among urban women. 75,000 new cases occur in Indian women every year. A World Health Organisation survey suggests that by 2020 there will be 10 million new cancer cases every year in the developing world of which 6 million people will die. In India alone it is estimated that 1.5 million new cancer cases will occur yearly at the start of this century. These depressing statistics speak of the alarming magnitude of the problem, and necessitates an urgent need for creating awareness about prevention, control, and cure of breast cancer.

About 100 women from Thane discovered the truth about breast cancer last Saturday, when veteran surgeon Dr Ravi Deshmukh, retired head of surgery at Grant Medical College, provided insights into prevention and control of breast cancer. The seminar, held at Sarva Seva Samiti Hall in Thane East between 5.30 and 7 pm, was organised by social worker Veena Bhatia. Dr Deshmukh revealed that one out of every 30 women in India suffers from the malady and attributed the cause to genetic disposition, late marriage, having fewer children and shorter duration of breast feeding. He urged the women present to check themselves thoroughly on the first of every month and immediately report to the doctor in case they find an abnormality. Dr Deshmukh stressed that not every tumor is cancerous and women should not panic if they discover something abnormal. The problem with Indian women is that they are shy of visiting cancer specialists, most of who are men. They also defer the test in apprehension of what they might discover, sometimes for up to two years, after which it is too late for cure. But this is a big mistake, said Dr Deshmukh, because early detection can prevent the cancer from turning malignant. He suggested that every woman who turns 38 should get a basic mammography done to rule out the chances of breast cancer. He also outlined some basic health and hygiene criteria for women to follow and demonstrated the techniques of self-examination through an audio visual presentation.

A Q&A that followed saw many women asking relevant questions regarding costs of treatment, where to go, whom to approach and so on. One very useful piece of information that Dr Deshmukh shared was that women who discover that they have breast cancer need not wait to get admission to TATA memorial hospital, which sometimes takes precious months. In fact they need leave Thane, because all the advanced treatment facilities are available right here.

Before he ended his session, Dr Deshmukh took a promise from all women present in the audience that they will check themselves on the first of every month and spread the word by informing at least seven other women about what they learnt in the seminar. Incidentally, he revealed that one other problem with spreading awareness about breast cancer is the reluctance of women to attend such seminar even. Dr Deshmukh requested Bhatia to open a centre for breast cancer in Thane on lines of western countries and offered technical help for the same if needed.

Several women requested the doctor for an opportunity to speak to him individually after the seminar was formally over. Although the seminar met its immediate objective of educating the 100-odd women, its larger objective of preventing breast cancer and controlling its incidence will depend on how many women who attended the seminar, and those who are reading this column, follow the advice given by Dr Deshmukh. Remember, when it comes to cancer, ignorance is anything but bliss.

Rulers of the heart

Rulers of the heart

In the 1967 film, King of Hearts, a World War I soldier, separated from his battalion wanders into a small village, which is totally deserted, leave for inmates of a mental asylum. The villagers, fearing an attack by enemy forces, have fled, leaving behind the mentally handicapped patients, who were regarded as totally disposable, for even their wardens abandon them. Such an attitude is widespread in our society, where the marginalised section is often left to fend for itself. But thankfully several NGOs have taken upon themselves to attend to the needs of this oft-ignored fragment of our social order. Like city-based NGO Sevadham.

A few weeks ago, about 25 women inmates, accompanied by TMH staff that included medical professionals and social workers (all women) from Sevadham spent a fun day near the sea. The troop parked itself at a resort near Aqsa beach which is owned by the JJ Nursing Association and is a lent only to NGOs that serve the poor and the marginalised. For the inmates of TMH, who spend theirs days confined within the boundaries of TMH, this was a welcome break. "The objective of taking them for a picnic is to give these inmates a break from their monotonous lives. Besides, being near water has a therapeutic effect on them – it helps them release their tensions," a Sevadham volunteer revealed.

The shallow pond in the resort became their playground as the inmates participated in a number of sports and games that were played inside the pond. Later, the drenched women, who did not have spare clothes, dried themselves under the sun. There were other games too, like poking straws in the head and collecting scattered marbles. There was a dancing session, wherein the inmates let their hair loose literally. From 8 am to 4 pm, the women inmates had a ball of a time. When it was time to wind up the unwinding session, the inmates expressed their desire to want more. A unanimous question from the inmates was, "When’s our next picnic?"

Hearing about the wonderful time that the ladies had, the staff of TMH requested Sevadham to organise a similar trip for the male inmates too. So coming Tuesday, it’s the turn of the male inmates to enjoy, play games, splash water and dance merrily. The reason why medical staff accompanies volunteers is because these patients need to be attended to at all times, though the experience of volunteers suggests that such outings are usually trouble-free as inmates are so engrossed in having fun that they forget themselves in the process.

Sevadham regularly organizes picnics for the poor and marginalised sections of the society. Earlier it has earlier taken physically and mentally challenged students from city schools like Jidd and St John the Baptist School for special children as also tribal children from villages around in and around Thane.

In the aforementioned film "King of Hearts", the soldier leads the disoriented patients out of the asylum and into the abandoned village, where they establish a surprisingly balanced community – there is singing and dancing, laughter and love, the strong care for the weak, the haves share with the have-nots. Come to think of it, volunteers of NGOs like Sevadham are like soldiers – they are bringing equilibrium back into those whose lives have been rendered off-balance by fate and by the so-called oriented society. They are truly the kings and queens of hearts.

See and Smile

See and Smile

It’s not just students who heave a sigh of relief during summertime. As the financial year of most Indian companies ends in March, even business executives and working professionals look forward to a time off from their gruelling work schedules. Most pack their bags and head to a holiday destination. Those who stay back participate in the various activities and events organised in and around the city. One such summertime event that the city residents look forward to is the Art Exhibition organised by AksharRang Kala Academy.

That the art exhibition is hugely popular among art lovers can be gauged from the fact that last year the exhibition had almost 20,000 visitors, not just from Thane and Mumbai but also from Goa, Bangalore and Nagpur. Last year, it was collection of paintings by the Late Deenanath Dalal that pulled the crowd, while the year before it was world-renowned Calligrapher Achyut Palav’s that attracted people. This year, the job’s being done by cartoonist Shivram Phadnis, fondly known as Shi Da. Known for his amazing sense of humour, more than 120 of his original works will be on display for everyone to see and smile.

Phadnis, who work was exhibited for the first time at Jahangir Art Gallery way back in 1965, has regularly contributed to the covers of several Marathi magazines. His illustrations and cartoons are also found in books on various subjects including banking, medicine, mathematics, science, law and even philosophy. Phadnis has received several awards in recognition of his art. In 1954, Phadnis was awarded the "Outstanding Editorial Art Award" by Commercial Artist’s Guild (CAG) Mumbai. University Grants commission (UGC) aired Phadnis’s programmes on national television in 1987. In 2001 he received the Lifetime Achievements Award by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore. The Marmik weekly also honoured him with a Life time Achievement Award. Many of his cartoons have been exhibited and published by the International Salon of Cartoons, Montreal, Canada and also in periodicals of USA and Germany.

Free of comments or political punches, Phadnis’s cartoon’s have a unique style and grace that reflect simplicity. The humour’s gentle, yet effective – it does a job of bringing a smile to your face. And best of all it’s free! Nicknamed "Laughing Gallery", the exhibition is open from April 27 to May 02 at Town hall in Tembhi Naka.

Food for thought
Speaking about summertime events, this one’s sure to whet your appetite. The annual food festival, being organised between May 06 and 08 at Ghantali Maidan, promises to be as enticing as the previous ones. This year’s theme being "Family Nutrition", visitors will be able to learn about nutritional aspects of every family member, from the youngest to the oldest. The event kicks off at 6 pm on May 01 with a session of "dietary tips" for senior citizens of Thane at the Nana-Nani park near Rangayatan. Many such mini-events (curtain-raisers) have been planned across the city.

Indian cuisine is considered by many as the best in the world, both taste- and health-wise. Yet, nutritional requirements differ from person to person, depending on such factors as age, professional, lifestyle, and individual constitution. Especially in the modern-day, fast-food culture, when nutritionally empty foods have become the order of the day, family nutrition is a relevant theme. "The three-day programme, which is free to attend, will offer a wealth of wisdom to its visitors", claims Tushar Pitale, who is organising the event. The event aims to address many nutritional issues via informative sessions by experts. Games, competitions, cookery events, poster exhibition and lucky draws will ensure that the whole family is entertained.

It is said that a family that eats together, stays together. And if the food they eat is nutritious, such families live longer together.

Ye Dil Mange No More

Ye Dil Mange No More

Prevention is better than cure, it is said. But this adage does not apply to AIDS, where prevention is the only option, since there is no known cure. In spite of this seemingly common knowledge about AIDS, the incidence of this deadly disease is on the upswing. AIDS is spreading faster in India than anywhere else in the world, with an official figure of 51 lakh HIV+ cases. According to some foreign NGOs, this figure is over one crore. Cause for alarm is the fact that more than 50 per cent of all infected cases in India are in Maharashtra. And in Maharashtra, Mumbai (together with its twin city Thane), is the worst affected with one in every 40 people being HIV+.

A programme on AIDS awareness for the youth was organised in the city on March 24 at the TMA Hall in Wagle Estate. About 90 college-going students attended the programme and came out better informed. Well-known theatre personality Meena Naik, who has been doing AIDS awareness shows in various city colleges. Titled "Ye dil mange more", the show first used a 15-minute puppet show capsule that attempted to demonstrate how AIDS is transferred from one person to another. Later, a 45-minute play revolving around a mother and her two teenage daughters highlighted the modern day life in colleges, the party culture, and the accompanying risks.

Naik, who was awarded the Japanese Foundation Fellowship for study of puppetry in School (Educational Puppetry), presented a paper on "safe sex through puppetry" at the International Conference on Puppets in Health Education and Therapy held in London on June 1994. The interactive session after the play was alive with several questions being answered adeptly. Naik came across as a flexible person who was willing to incorporate suggestions for change in her approach from the audience.

Many of those who attended felt that the programme should be extended to seniors at the school level itself. College students were of the opinion that parents must be made to attend such programmes, in presence of their teenage children. "Nothing much has been done in Thane to spread AIDS awareness. Therefore, when we got an opportunity to do a programme with Meena Naik, we didn’t think twice", said ND Joseph, President of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, the organisers of the programme.

According to Dr Rajan Bhosle, a renowned counsellor and an AIDS activist, "After 24 years of human effort in an age when technology and science are so advanced, and with all countries working together to find a cure, we have still been unable to deal with AIDS. As of now, prevention is the only cure for AIDS." Yes, we need more awareness programmes to stop the wildfire of AIDS from engulfing our youth. Listen to your hearts as they cry out Ye dil mange no more AIDS.

Colourful Values
Holi, the festival of colours, is fun. But oftentimes, Holi colours, if not smeared properly, are known to hurt and harm individuals. Realising that the best way to inculcate safety habits is to catch them young, the teachers of Garden School taught their little pre-school kiddos the right way to enjoy Holi. The idea behind this was that children tend to remember and stick to the values they acquire at a tender age.

On Wednesday, 90 children between 3 and 4 years, all Garden School students, learnt how to daub colour via demonstration. The children learnt how colours can make some people go blind and deaf and therefore it was important to throw colour carefully. Teachers trained them to apply colours only on cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, and taught them how to carefully vulnerable body parts, especially eyes and ears. Later, they were told to memorise this sentence: "Holi is a festival of colours, bright and nice – but we must not throw colour in anybody’s eyes". Why only children, even some adults need to memorise this one.

Malnutrition and our Society

Malnutrition and our Society

A study by University of Southern California, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, has found that children who are malnourished in the first few years of their life are more likely to be aggressive and antisocial throughout childhood and into their late teens. "Poor nutrition, characterised by zinc, iron, vitamin B and protein deficiencies, leads to low IQ, which leads to later antisocial behaviour. These are all nutrients linked to brain development," said psychology professor and co-author of the study Adrian Raine.

If the study is true, then India has reason to be concerned. According to UNICEF, over a third of the world’s malnourished children live in India. 47 percent children under three years of age are malnourished. If something isn’t done quickly, then it also means that our country will have more than a third of the world’s anti-social elements in a few years’ time.

In spite of the unfavourable statistic, the world has its hopes stuck on India. "With its 400 million children, India holds the key to achieving a quantum leap for children globally. As acknowledged by the international community, India has a leadership role in ensuring the rights and wellbeing of the world’s children," says a UNICEF document. Though UNICEF, along with the Government of India, has malnutrition on the top of its agenda for this country, the responsibility does not end with them. Thankfully, we do have many socially conscious citizens who, individually or as part of a group, often contribute in their own way towards such urgent social causes. Take Poject Aahaar for instance, which is aimed at taking care of malnourished tribal children of a tribal village called Ronakapada at Yeoor Hills. Since July 2004, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, about 75 or so tribal children receive a nutrition-packed meal that included bananas, boiled eggs and Rajgira Laadoos. Bananas and Rajgira are both known for their high nutritional value and eggs are a rich source of protein. What’s interesting is that the eggs are purchased from a tribal woman   and another tribal woman boils them. Both these women are paid for their services and have found a new source of income.

The project, launched   by Inner Wheel Club of Thane Hills (IWCTH) with the help of city-based NGO Sevadham, was initiated at the suggestion of Dr Pallavi Bhatt, a paediatrician, who visited the village during a health camp organised by the club and observed that the children living there were malnourished. Quarterly health camps were then augmented with a regular supply of nutrition to the children. So, while the doctors at the health camp checked their height and weight along with a general body check up and provided medicines such as cough syrups, the food distributed ensured that the children remain properly nourished.

At least one specialist accompanies the health camp. So in July it was a dentist who recommended appropriate oral care. IWCTH distributed free toothpaste and toothbrushes too. Then in October, an eye-specialist checked the eyesight of the children. In January, when the next camp is scheduled, an ENT specialist is expected to accompany the volunteers.

On October 29, the IWCTH held its second health camp up under Aahaar. The results of initiating the nutritional supply in July was encouraging. All but three children had gained about one to one and a half kilos in weight. The three who didn’t gain weight didn’t lose it either.

Sarmistha Chowdhury from IWCTH says, "We came to know about this village from Sevadham and we first started only with health camps, where we carry out health check ups and would distribute some food, old clothes and toys for children. When Dr Bhatt accompanied us to the village, she noticed the state of the children, and then suggested that a regular nutritional meal be supplied to them. This is how Project Aahaar was conceived." The funds for the project come from personal contributions of the IWCTH members.

If every city, town and village decided to replicate project Aahaar, soon our country will see a dramatic decline in the prevalence of malnutrition – and perhaps also in number of anti-social cases. We can then expect a more peaceful future.

The secret of a long life

The secret of a long life

The Ogimi Village in Japan is called The Village of Long Life. The statistics of Ogimi village contradict the general pattern of old age, which is usually associated with a plethora of ailments. Consider this: of the 3500 residents in the village, 1056 people are over 65 and there are 80 people aged more than 90. The secret of Ogimi village’s longevity lies in the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Most of the older people live on their own or with their spouse, enjoying a balanced lifestyle amid rich natural surroundings in a close-knit community. In spite of being very old, these people are by no means shunned by society. Rather, they live in a community of mutual care and assistance, with frequent visits to and from with their children and grandchildren in the cities.

Senior citizens can enjoy the same good health and high-quality life described above anywhere in the world. They only need the love, support and understanding of their family and the community. Take the example of our own senior citizen from Thane, Mrs Parvatibai Sadashiv Kelkar, who completed 100 years on October 16, 2004. With the health she enjoys at 100, Kelkar would give an inferiority complex to people who are decades younger than her. She is free from most old-age ailments. She has perfect eyesight, no diabetes, a blood pressure of a 25-year-old, a strong heart, and a powerful memory. She has mobility problems, and can’t move as freely possible, but that is mostly because of slowing down reflexes. She attributes her good health to an active life and good eating habits. "In those days, we consumed healthy, home made food, farm fresh fruits and vegetables and were very active. Besides, we lived a relatively easy life, with far less stress as compared to today."
 
One significant factor that has contributed to her sound health is her loving family. On her 100th birthday, her family celebrated the occasion with enthusiasm. 30 teachers from Vartak Nagar Madhyamilk Vidyala in Shastri Nagar, where Kelkar’s daughter-in-law Jyoti teaches, felicitated Kelkar by presenting her with a garland made of five rupee notes. Kelkar also cut a huge cake to mark the occasion. Later, the teachers, including Principal Jayshree Jog, listened in awe as veteran narrated a few gripping episodes of her life. For instance, her late husband, Sadashiv Vinayak Kelkar, was a freedom fighter and consequently, great patriots like Yeswantrao Chavan and freedom fighter Krantisingh Nana Patil (known for founding the shadow government) visited the Kelkar’s.

Kelkar’s progeny is remarkable. She has five sons and three daughters, 17 grandchildren and more than 25 great grandchildren. Kelkar lives with her youngest son Chandrakant and appreciates her daughter-in-law Jyoti’s selfless dedication in caring for her.

The story of centenarian Kelkar is as real as the stories of abuse and exploitation of elders across the world. The situation in developing nations like India is worse. Our country had 77 million "grey population" in 2001 as compared to 12 million in 1901. The number is expected to grow to 25 million by 2025. While we have NGOs like Helpage India trying to work for benefit of the elderly, we also require a shift in mass consciousness about our attitude towards the elders. Instead of looking upon them as a liability, we can regard them has treasure trove of wisdom and experience. By giving our elders love and respect, we can make the whole world like the Japanese village, where health, joy and old age coexist.

Old is gold

Old is gold

It is said that age is all mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. If age is a matter of the mind, then you’re as old as you feel. Though old age has its drawbacks, it comes with many rewards. Old is Gold, because virtues like wisdom, insight, patience, tolerance and knowledge come with old age. It is to honour these virtues that we celebrate the World Elder’s Day.

On Friday October 01, 2004, the Rotary Club of Thane North End (RCTNE) and Innerwheel Club of Thane Hills (IWCTH) together organised a programme to celebrate Elder’s Day. Held at Gadkari Rangayatan, over 350 senior citizens attended the programme. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Retired Judge Raja Bhau Gawande said, "Old age is a phenomenon to be enjoyed. If you love your life, life will love you." He also told the audience how in foreign countries, old age is categorised as young old (60-80 years) and old-old (80-100 years). Ashok Chitnis, former Principal of Bedekar School held a story telling session in which he narrated an award-winning story written by him about a notorious student and his teacher.

Later, three elders were felicitated: Chandravage Chorge, 102 years, Parashuram Naik, 95 years and Khayatkar, 93 years as their contemporaries in the audience cheered.

At the time when so many elder are abused, it is time for the youth and children to acknowledge that we owe our life to them. Old age is inevitable, and some day, the youth of today will become the old of tomorrow. Perhaps it is a good time to commit to memory the following quotation by the French romantic poet, novelist and dramatist Victor Hugo, which echoes the sentiments of elders accurately: "The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves." Let’s pledge happiness for our elders.

For your eyes only
Did you know that with nearly one third of the world’s blind, India has one of the highest incidences of blindness in the world? And though a significant proportion of these persons can have their eyesight restored through corneal transplantation, thousands of blind persons registered with the eye banks have to wait for years because of an acute shortage of donor eyes. Incidentally our neighbouring Sri Lanka has ten times more donor eyes than the requirement. Needless to say, we need to create an urgent awareness about eye donations, if we are to reduce this paucity.

While celebrating World Elder Day at the Gadkari, the RCTNE also used the opportunity to inaugurate an eye bank called "Diyva Drushti," a project which is part of the Centennial Year Celebrations of The Rotary International. A skit presentation by Suhas Joshi, Iravati Lagoo, Leeladhar Kambli, and Yatin Thakur urged people to pledge their eyes for donation. The skit creating attempted to create awareness about the benefits of the noble deed and also busted a few myths associated with eye donation. For example, removing the eye does not disfigure the face of the donor.

For pledge forms and other details, readers may contact Dr. Shekhar Suradkar or Dr. Kalpana Suradkar, at Highway Hospital, near Teen Haat Naka. Tel: 2582 2683/2581 2910. Mobile 9820045614