Ageless in Club 94

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Government initiatives are now targeting the increasing number of SA’s Indian seniors

Often ethnic communities feel they are on the fringes of society, missing out on the opportunities and benefits available to the wider community. The elderly people within these communities are still more vulnerable and can wait wide-eyed for help to arrive to give their lives value and comfort.

In Adelaide, this is where Multicultural Aged Care (MAC), a South Australian government department, comes in. MAC’s main purpose is to provide mechanisms and support to the elderly of ethnic communities so they may be better looked after in ways suited to their culture.

One of the initiatives is a monthly get-together called Club 94 for people from a variety of cultures. Different ethnic groups are invited in turn to make presentations for the day. The early August event was a presentation of Indian culture.

What better way to showcase India than by enticing guests with subtle aromas of rich spices and herbs.

That comforting scent of freshly cooked fluffy basmati rice wafted around the hall. And all around were displays of colourful fabrics, dresses and other interesting Indian knick-knacks. Young Indian women in colourful sarees volunteering for the event also added to the Indian theme.

In order to stay healthy, it is of vital importance for older people to keep their mind and body active. Understanding this, MAC takes the opportunity at such events to ensure their guests have games to play and things to do.

An interesting activity for the day was decorating candle holders. This required imagining the design you wanted and then cutting and pasting pretty and colourful shapes on to the candle holder. It was great because there was instant gratification as you left with the finished product to take home after everyone had said how nice it looked.

Board games and cards were also popular. All these activities are designed to shake the sluggishness out of the mind and to get it working like a well-oiled machine. The activities also require the use of hands, helping with dexterity and co-ordination.

And if the hands got tired there was always the hand massage on offer. A nice touch for rough hands or indeed if you felt the need to be pampered.

Rosa Colanero, CEO of MAC, explained, “The organisation has been going in one shape or form since 1992. Its aim is to provide information, resources and training for the aged and community care sector while recognising cultural diversity.”

Rosa Colanero

Bearing in mind South Australia (SA) has 280 residential facilities alone, it would be a daunting task to reach all the elderly. Asked how well she felt MAC was achieving its aims and goals, she commented confidently that she felt it was doing quite a good job given the resources available to it.

Colanero also mentioned that the Department of Social Services will soon be provided with a pool of funds for the elderly.

Funds from this pool, interestingly called ‘Growth Money’, will be made available based on the merit of bids made by communities for the benefit of their older members always bearing in mind their cultural sensitivities.

To my knowledge, Indian seniors have to date not participated in the activities of MAC. I expect this will clearly change organically simply with growth in their numbers as more services are embraced by the seniors.

In addition, the appointment of Maj Gen Vikram Madan (Retd) as ambassador for MAC has certainly provided a catalyst to the Indian seniors who may now start to avail themselves of MAC’s offerings.

Vikram’s role involves promoting MAC’s services to councils and other community organisations and generally spreading the word about MAC far and wide.

He gave a warm speech welcoming guests to the Indian theme for the day and he and Mudra Shah, of the Mudra Dance Academy, gave a brief talk about India, its costumes and culture.

Maj Gen Vikram Madan 

It was apparent that lunch would not come easily and would have to be worked for. Mudra cranked up the heat with some Bollywood music and started dancing. Very soon a large group of guests was on the floor trying to follow her moves including the hip-flicks and having plenty of fun.

Once again, note the subtle introduction of physical exercise under the guise of dance by MAC for us oldies. Mudra is a very generous supporter of the Indian community and her performance of action, colour and sound will, I’m sure, be a highlight for us all.

Lunch of butter chicken, channa, raita, salad, naan and rice was served at the tables making for a relaxed affair.

This was soon being tucked into by the guests who included Greeks, Philipinos, Malaysians amongst others and a handful from India. Catering by the Solankis is always good and this was no exception.

Club 94 is surely the place for people to try different foods in a safe and stress free environment, to learn about new cultures, to meet people of other races, and to appreciate diversity.

Avi Chandiok
Avi Chandiok
Mountain-fit 70 year old whose greatest achievement is trekking to Everest Base Camp.

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