Lifelines and Laugh Lines: Medical care for Seniors in Lebanon
"Our partnership with Anera is literally a life line. Through them, we are receiving medicinal donations from all over the world.” - Dr. Ramadan, doctor
The Islamic Dar Al Ajaza Hospital (literally, ‘home of the elderly’) is a heartwarming place. The free-of-charge residence and hospital serves seniors from all walks of life in Beirut, Lebanon.
Zakieh has been at Dar Al Ajaza for almost 10 years. “They treat us very well here. The nurses are like my own daughters! I never feel like a burden and I am constantly cared for,” she exclaims.
Some of the people who live here have very sad stories to share, and happy ones too. Dar Al Ajaza is home to seniors who have been abandoned by their loved ones or have experienced difficult circumstances or are war veterans or have special needs. Residents come from different different religions and nationalities.
In some cases, these seniors have supportive families, but require specialized care and cannot reside in their own homes. This community residence is a haven for many older souls, giving them the dignity, comfort and care they need to continue their lives.
“Every morning and right before I fall asleep, the nurse helps me take all my medicines. Otherwise, I would always forget,” say 81-year-old Zakieh laughing.
Owing to its advanced medical care capabilities, Dar Al Ajaza Hospital also serves people of all ages suffering from neurological diseases. Many of those treated at Dar Al Ajaza are from vulnerable and marginalized communities, like Palestinian and Syrian refugees. The hospital currently serves more than 600 patients.
“We need donations to continue serving others. We cannot always purchase medicines and supplies. Organizations like Anera and Americares are taking some of the weight off of our shoulders. They make our lives easier as medical practitioners. We can worry less about allocating treatments, and more about how to treat our patients,” says Dr. Razan Domiate, the hospital’s chief pharmacist.
Unlike most senior living facilities, Dar Al Ajaza is a nonprofit association, established to serve Lebanon’s elderly through wellness services, living accommodations and high quality medical treatment. The hospital relies upon financial and medical in-kind donations to operate.
Dr. Nadia Fawzi Ramadan, a resident family doctor at Dar Al Ajaza, says that beyond providing direct care for the elderly, “our mission is to also raise awareness of seniors’ rights and care. We want to involve our community, our government and the private sector in the care process.”
“We are a free-of-charge hospital and elderly home,” says Dr. Ramadan. “We depend on the support of others to sustain our services. Our partnership with Anera is literally a lifeline. Through them, we are receiving medicinal donations from all over the world.”
Access to health care is an issue for many in Lebanon due to the fragile economy and starkly uneven distribution of wealth. Those who cannot afford topnotch medical insurance cannot afford many essential medicines.
Anera partner and Dar Al Ajaza donor Americares is providing a much-needed medicine at Dar Al Ajaza called valproate sodium, used to treat epilepsy.
“Although few of our patients are epileptic, it helps most elderly patients who have related symptoms such as seizure disorders and neurological complications. It is not always available in Lebanon, and when it is, it’s pricey,” says Dr. Ramadan. Anera is pleased to partner with Americares and Dar Al Ajaza Hospital to ensure this vital drug is available to patients.