Zain Anbar and
JEDDAH – Elderly women in care homes are treating this Eid as they have done in the past: as nothing special. They will spend it alone in their rooms, with no one to share their feelings of happiness.
The residents feel glad when volunteers visit them during Eid. Other than that, Eid for them is another reminder of loneliness and desperation.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette visited several elderly homes and asked their residents about their stories and what they do in Eid.
Umm Muhammad, who is in her late 60s, moved to an elderly home many years ago when her parents died.
She did not have brothers and sisters, while her relatives live in various cities. She did not want to bother them, so she decided to move to an elderly home.
“I feel lonely this Eid because I don’t have a family to share the joy of the occasion with.”
She said the social programs and volunteer visits bring joy to them and compensate for the lack of family visits.
Umm Abdullah spends most of her day listening to the radio or chatting with other residents.
Some women here do not talk at all and prefer to be silent all the time, especially those who suffer from diabetes and blood pressure, Umm Abdullah said.
Another woman, named Umm Khadijah, said she had to come to this home when her parents died, although she wanted to go and live with her brother.
“My brother can barely provide for his wife and his daughter. He can’t afford to have me in his house.”
Her brother’s wife and daughter come and visit her every now and then and spend some time with her to help her forget the miserable condition she lives in.
Khadijah Salih has been living in the home for 16 years after losing her two children to a tragic road accident.
She said she loves to prepare sweets and cakes during Eid and share them with other residents as a way to modify her daily routine.
She said: “All days are the same. They come and go and nothing changes. I hope I die peacefully. I can’t forget the day I lost my two kids to that fatal accident. I lost hope in life after their death.”
At Dar Al-Shakirin Home for the Elderly, Umm Monir found a way to pass her time at this 30-year-old home by cooking simple traditional meals and distributing them to women older than her who can no longer cook.
The only solace for her is that she believes that this is her destiny and she accepts it. She misses her grandchildren a lot and wishes she could see them soon.
The 60-year-old woman hopes that volunteers visit them and take them on tours outside in order to enjoy the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.
At another home for elderly not far away, Umm Khalid was crying in her room in silence.
She is getting older and finds it difficult to move around like she used to.
She has been living at this home for 10 years ever since she got divorced.
Dr. Nawal Al-Zahrani, a psychologist at King Abdulaziz University, suggested that new homes for the elderly should be built and supervised by healthcare professionals.
The current homes do not have any safety standards, she said.
“Those elderly people need social as well as psychological care, let alone financial help.”
Al-Zahrani hoped that concerned authorities provide the residents of these homes with suitable entertainment and social programs.