SHARJAH // A senior citizens home is calling on people of all ages to volunteer to help integrate their elderly clientele into the community.
The director of Sharjah Senior Citizens Home, Mariam Al Qatari, said 40 elderly men and women live at the home run by Sharjah social services department and that the majority of them have no families or ties to the community.
While the home provides activities and outings for residents, Ms Al Qatari said it is a must that they get interaction with members of society.
“The elderly need direct contact with people from all age groups, to give them a sense of belonging. It helps them feel that they are still a part of the community,” she said.
“When they sit down with volunteers, they start building relationships and personal bonds with them, they share their stories and thoughts with the volunteers and, in return, they get to know more about their new friends, the way they live, the problems they face.”
Interaction with others lifts the spirits and enhances the lives of the home’s residents, she said.
Ms Al Qatari is hoping to attract 100 volunteers this year to the home in Al Qarain, near Sharjah airport.
“The volunteers will be given training workshops to hone their social skills to make them more capable of dealing with the seniors to help them socialise more with people,” said the director.
Yaqoub Al Hamadi, a social work counsellor, said volunteering, especially for young people, can give them positive experiences and can change their outlook on life.
“Volunteer work definitely shapes the personality of the person, especially at a young age. The ability to offer a helping hand, or spend time with seniors, will give them a sense of accomplishment, a contribution to the community. It will boost their self-esteem knowing that they are impacting the lives of others,” said the 45-year-old Emirati.
One young person who has been doing just that is Khalifa Al Rahma, 25.
“It brings the elderly people a lot of joy when we spend time with them, once they warm to us the floodgates of stories open and, at the end of the day, we forge a unique friendship with them,” said the Sharjah RTA employee.
Aside from being a permanent home to some seniors, the centre also offers day care services for other senior citizens.
“Some senior citizens have nobody to support them or take care of them in the morning time, so they come to the centre and spend their day here and return back to their homes at the end of the day. It gives them a chance to socialise with their peers, and they benefit from services we offer at the home,” said Ms Al Qatari.
The medical team at the centre monitor seniors’ general health by testing blood pressure, sugar levels and temperature. They also provide physiotherapy to seniors and dietary consultants monitor their diets.
For more information on how to volunteer, call 06 5078740.