Gujarat government’s move to provide health check-ups to senior citizens in their houses could not have come at a better time than this. Analysis of call data made to HelpAge, an NGO that works with the elderly in the city, found that a majority of calls were about social security schemes of the government.Of the total 779 calls the helpline received in the last three months, a whopping 67% was from elderly wanted to know about the government’s social security schemes.The second highest number of calls (11%) sought medical assistance for destitute. Interestingly, calls seeking help for abuse requiring police intervention was only 1% and those in which the elderly complained of property disputes was 7%.Those who have worked with the elderly say the figures can be misleading as far as abuse of elders is concerned. It’s rampant and not many reports and even less do so on the phone.Most of the calls come from the elderly who want to know about the social security schemes, the pension schemes available to them et cetera. The second highest number of calls asking for medical help. The number of calls about abuse and such is low not because elderly abuse is on the decline, but because most of the elderly would not complain of abuse on the phone. For them there is always the risk of their children overhearing them, said Anil Massey, joint director and state head of HelpAge India. In fact, if Massey is to be believed, the highest number of complaints are about abuse if one were to consider walk-ins.”Most of the time, when an elderly person comes to us it is a complain about abuse. It is about children, forcing them to sign off their properties, or not taking care of them or such,” said MasseyDimple Shah, trustee of Jeevan Sandhya an old age home admits that many of the queries that come their way often is related to elderly complaining of abuse and neglect.”We also get queries about social security schemes and mostly it is because people even if they are educated are ignorant of the various benefits available to them under government schemes,” said Shah. Due to lack of space, the old age home ends up refusing at least one elderly person in a day, she said. “Almost 70% of the time it is because the youngsters don’t take care of the elderly. Otherwise, the elderly also refuse to accommodate and insist on having their way which leads to conflicts,” said Shah.SEEKING HELPSecond highest number of calls (11%) sought medical assistance for destitute. Also, calls seeking help for abuse requiring police intervention was only 1% and those in which the elderly complained of property disputes was 7%.
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