A ray of hope

The Senior Citizens Centre at Liaquat National Hospital is a much needed facility for old people

A ray of hope

The Senior Citizens Centre at Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College is a unique project in Pakistan. It was established in October 2019 and caters to the needs of those over 65 years of age who feel lonely and alienated.

It was inaugurated by writer Anwar Maqsood.

Dr Mahreen Raza is currently in charge of the facility. When a senior citizen approaches the centre they normally undergo standardised tests by a team consisting of a qualified psychologist, a general physician, a doctor specialising in family medicine and a dietitian. The vitals of the said citizen are checked. If they are already taking some prescribed medication, trained nurses make sure they get their medicine on time. This is especially important in view of the memory loss and forgetfulness that often accompany old age.

Dr Syeda Samrina, who is a registered dietitian and nutritionist (RDN) from the Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetic Society (PNDS), is currently serving as a diet specialist at the Centre. She is also pursuing a master’s in public health (MSPH) at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST). The Health & Fitness Clinic serves all age groups and all kinds of problems, ranging from child nutrition to adult nutrition as well as weight loss and obesity related issues.”

“As a diet and fitness specialist, my job is to provide detailed nutritional counselling to the patients along with diet plans and workout advice to go with it. The clinic also caters to new mothers with postpartum weight gain issues and PCOs-related issues,” she says.

There are currently about 35 senior citizens at the centre. A full day package at the centre includes lunch under the guidance of a dietician. Several board games and arts and crafts facilities are offered at the centre. There is also a flower shop and a bookshop at the compound for the convenience of the citizens. There is an on-site trainer who helps senior citizens with music and films. For women who observe purdah a private area is provided, separated from the rest using a screen. One can see a walking track outside and also a horticulture department that guides senior citizens who want to indulge in gardening. There is also a lush green cricket ground in the compound. Former Test cricketer Sadiq Mohammad visits once every month. According to Anjum Rizvi, the public relations senior manager, activity at the centre did shrink during the pandemic but things are looking up now. The future looks bright for the senior citizens choosing to join the centre.

A ray of hope