Bengaluru: 250% rise in calls to elders’ helpline during pandemic | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: There has been more than 250% rise in calls received on elders’ helpline (1090) this year. The portal received 515 calls during 2019, an average of 43 a month. But the number shot up to 1,245 between January and August 2020, with the monthly average at 156.
According to helpline staff, there was a sharp increase in elders approaching them from March to July, when Covid-19 broke out and lockdown was in force. The callers sought assistance in getting medicines, visiting hospitals and in some cases, requested the staff to convince their children, living elsewhere, to speak with them.
A per estimates, over 2.4 lakh elders live alone or with their spouses in the city. When elders above 65 years, those living alone in particular, are not encouraged to go out, they look for support, especially with essentials like medicines and provisions.
During the lockdown, the helpline joined hands with police and volunteers to assist many elders get essentials and medicines delivered, organised transport for their hospital visits and counselled them over Covid-19 facts, the staff said.
Dr Radha S Murthy, managing trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust, which runs the elders’ helpline along with city police, said there has been an increase in senior citizens complaining of harassment during the pandemic.
Harassment by family members

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, many professionals are restricted to their homes. Young professionals and others have been accused of harassing senior citizens. Calls received during the three successive lockdowns were mostly about harassment by family members,” she said.
Dr Murthy recalled the case of a 75-year-old woman. She and her husband lived separately. “The woman sought help as she couldn’t withstand the mental abuse from her daughter-inlaw and her son’s indifference towards her. The woman and her husband had registered a house built in joint ownership with their son. After her son’s marriage, the woman had plans to rent it out so as to have a stable income. The lockdown only increased the importance of it. But her plans went for a toss as her daughter-in-law refused to rent the house and started harassing her,” said Dr Murthy.
The helpline staff interacted with the family on phone and later visited them. “Both sides were counselled and the son and daughter-inlaw were asked to release the property for the elders. Proper measures were taken to ensure the two took care of the elders and treated them with respect,” she added.

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Sagar Biswas

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