The police are striving to help Bangalore retain its pensioner’s paradise sobriquet

“We are not able to walk on the footpath because of encroachments. Family members do not like to accompany us. Autorickshaw drivers take advantage of our situation and fleece us,” said Shankar Nair, a retired private firm employee from Basavanagudi, who used to go for walks daily but has stopped now.

Despite the steps taken to make them feel secure, the elderly are still far from being at peace.

Take the elders helpline — 1090 — for example. A joint initiative by the city police and Nightingales Trust, it receives an average of 30 complaints a day.

Over 40 per cent say that they are abused by family members, 1090 staff revealed.

A majority of the complaints against their own children are about ill-treatment, financial disputes and property-related cases, while the rest are petty issues such as harassment from neighbours, being cheated by bill collection boys and shop-keepers which would be redressed immediately, co-founder of Nightingale, S. Prem Kumar Raja told The Hindu.

Though the helpline aims at offering a secured life for senior citizens, many initiatives offered by the helpline have no takers, Mr. Kumar said.

The quick response system offered by the city police for senior citizens living alone also sees lukewarm response.

The service is made available to the citizens who have BSNL phone connection. Senior citizens, who have registered themselves on the helpline, can seek quick help from the police. If senior citizens in distress pick up their receiver, a message from BSNL is flashed to the helpline, and the helpline staff alert the neighbours and the jurisdictional police under the system.

A survey conducted by the helpline reveals that the city has nine lakh senior citizens and the police made efforts to seek their details so that the jurisdictional police could be updated for future course of action. But many senior citizens refused to divulge details in fear that the details may reach unscrupulous elements and backfire on them.

Other services

In addition to legal help, the helpline offers the elderly job opportunities through a portal.

This is apart from a help desk at the helpline which can assist the elderly with information ranging from various services to safe tourist destinations and safety tips.

The helpline has launched a community policing scheme, “Hello neighbour”, to bring the elderly together and help them when in distress. This too has seen poor participation, a helpline staff said.

“Since our motto is ‘prevention is better than cure’, we always advise senior citizens to follow safety measures, including having regular contacts with their friends and family, avoiding unnecessary display of wealth, and taking safety measures at their residences. But nothing is being followed seriously,” Mr. Kumar said.

‘Senior citizens safe’

Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Bangalore, Pronab Mohanty said that despite all odds, the police are striving to retain help the city retain its “pensioner’s paradise” stature. Compared to the other cities, senior citizens here are safe and crimes against them are fewer due to the initiatives taken by the police, Mr. Mohanty said.

He said that the police have conducted a survey on senior citizens.

Beat police are alerted to keep a tab on such houses in their areas to provide fool-proof security, Mr. Mohanty said.