Little is known about the 38 residents at Sharjah’s Old People’s Home who survive without their families around to see to their needs.
Set up in 1968 to keep the elderly people without families to take care of them, Sharjah Old People’s Home has become the real home and their 80 staff the only family of 38 men and women who have no one else to turn to.
Currently, the oldest is more than 90 years after the death of one of them with the age of more than a hundred years, a few years back.
Each day, they take a bath with the help of 12 helpers and take their breakfast before routine exercise and medical check-ups. A doctor, a pharmacist, a laboratory technician, a dietician and 20 nurses are at their beck and call any time of the day.
Head of the Executive Affairs Agency Sharifa Abdullah Al Ali said except for two, all were in wheelchairs. “Though they are very old, we have not encountered any problems with them. They are behaving well. We make jokes and laugh with them. They are happy and contented.”
After exercise with the physiotherapist, the residents take Holy Quran lessons, read newspapers, watch television and play traditional Emirati games.
Al Ali says they go out of the Old People’s Home eight times a month. “We bring them to the beach, dine out in the restaurants, go window shopping and watch entertainment at The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. Some Emirati families will come by to toast a party to them just outside the Old People’s Home, particularly during Eid and Iftar. I send them to their distant relatives by bus and to hospital if they have some medical complaints.”
They also visit scenic parts of Al Ain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.
Mohammed Abbas, 70, who has been in the Old People’s Home for five years, said all his family members had died ahead of him. “I am alone at home and too happy to be brought here. I am very much comfortable here with my friend, Ahmad Mahmoud (who is 65) who plays dominos with me daily. They massage us and give us proper treatment daily when we feel bodily pains,” adds Mohammed.
Of the residents, 15 are men. All men visit the malls and dine outside for a day, while the women go on an outing the next day.
Ahmad Mahmoud says he could not walk so when the staff came to his house to bring him to the home, he hoped they would make him happy. “Indeed, I am too happy that they treat us well. I feel very good as a doctor always examines us and checks our health. They always bring us to The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates and to other emirates to see what is beautiful in these places.”
All of them have been taken from their own homes as they were living alone and had no children to take care of them. The Old People’s Home buys them clothes, food and medicines and anything else they need. “Their caring neighbours and friends call us to get them as they are helpless and alone in their homes. Most of them are between 70 and 90 years,” Al Ali said
Al Ali said the Sharjah government was supporting the Old People’s Home, but many kind-hearted individuals had come to donate cash and in-kind things to them. “During Eid, we throw a big party for them here. On the second day, relatives and friends take them to Eid celebrations in their homes. They are all happy to be here.”