Even though Covid-19 fatalities are high among residents of old age homes in other countries, such incidents have not been reported in Bangladesh
Away from their near and dear ones, residents of old age homes usually suffer from loneliness.
And now, amid the ongoing pandemic, fears of contracting Covid-19 have gripped the lonely senior citizens as they are the most susceptible to the highly contagious viral disease.
Even though Covid-19 has not hit old age homes in Bangladesh as it has done in the West, the authorities here are taking no chances.
Besides imposing restrictions on visitors, the authorities have restricted the daily activities of the residents to keep the novel coronavirus at bay.
"We are always alone. Now our loneliness has increased a lot. Relatives and children would come to see us before, but they cannot come now because of the pandemic.
"Besides, there is always the fear of getting infected," said a resident of Probin Nibash, an old age home located in the capital's Agargaon.
The former official of the National Museum has been living in the old age home for 12 years.
At present, there are 48 residents in the six-storey Probin Nibash established by Probin Hitaishi Sangha in Agargaon.
On a visit to the home on Tuesday, The Business Standard found the old age home much calmer than before.
Earlier, the residents were seen walking on the building premises but no one was seen on Tuesday. Only a woman was seen sitting on the verandah of the third floor.
The management has stopped allowing visitors into the facility. Only the children of the residents can go inside.
Restrictions have been imposed as well on the residents' going out. Besides, wearing facemasks has been made mandatory for them.
The senior citizens have been extremely alert to the need to protect themselves from Covid-19.
Yet infections could not be avoided. In August, two residents of Probin Nibash contracted the coronavirus. As a result, the entire home went under a lockdown for 20 days.
A resident said everyone had to undergo a lot of trouble carrying out various activities such as shopping and cooking.
"I try to follow the rules of hygiene," another resident said, adding that he had been spending time reading newspapers and books.
"I do not go out unnecessarily. I do not really take any visitors to my room. Instead, I go downstairs to talk to them. Even then, the fear of being infected is always at the back of my mind. I always think about what will happen to me if I get infected."
During the general holidays imposed to curb the spread of the virus in the country, the elderly people had to do all the work themselves to ensure their safety.
Caregivers would not come to Probin Nibash during the lockdown. Abdur Rahman Sarker, social welfare officer at the Bangladesh Association for the Aged and Institute of Geriatric Medicine (BAAIGM), termed the absence of caregivers the biggest challenge during the pandemic.
In Bangladesh, 50% of the people who have succumbed to Covid-19 were over 60 years of age. Elderly people who suffer from co-morbidity are more likely to die from the coronavirus, according to experts.
Even though Covid-19 fatalities are high among residents of old age homes in other countries, such incidents have not been reported in Bangladesh.
The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 50% of all Covid-19 deaths in Europe have occurred among residents of care homes.
Since June, more than 16,000 people have died from Covid-19 in UK care homes, while around 3,500 people have died in care homes in Germany.
This year's slogan for the International Day of Older Persons observed yesterday is "Pandemics: do they change how we address age and ageing?"
Referring to old age as a major challenge for human life, the United Nations has been observing October 1 as International Day of Older Persons every year since 1991.
Abdul Mannan, president of BAAIGM, told The Business Standard that the residents of Probin Nibas have so far been able to protect themselves through awareness.
"However, fear of the coronavirus has not yet subsided. They are spending time in loneliness and fear. We are trying our best to keep them safe," he said.