Recent instances of crimes against elders bring into focus their vulnerability

Six months ago, 77-year-old Kalyani’s daughter discovered that most of her jewellery was missing from her house in Alwarpet.

After a police complaint, it was discovered that one of the two nurses who took care of the senior citizen had stolen the jewellery.

Kalyani had been living alone for the past four years, with only the nurses to take care of her.

Recent cases of crimes against senior citizens in the city have brought into focus their vulnerability as they depend on people they trust for services like driving, housekeeping, security and healthcare.

According to the 2011 census, the State has 47.27 lakh persons above the age of 65, of which 21.82 lakh live in urban areas.

Many live alone, with their children working elsewhere in the country or abroad, said S.M. Chellasamy of Tamil Nadu Senior Citizens Welfare Association.

“They face a lot of problems even in day-to-day affairs such as paying bills and getting cash from the bank. Though there is a provision for them to register with the police, very few do so. There is not much awareness of this aspect,” he said.

Kalyani’s family too decided to register with the local police only after the theft was discovered. According to a relative, after the registration, the police would visit Kalyani once or twice a month, until she passed away recently.

P.S. Seshadri (66), who lives by himself, said he uses a trusted call-taxi service or share autos most of the time. “If public transport was more accessible to senior citizens, it would be the safest way to travel. It is difficult for senior citizens to travel in them, especially, during peak hours,” he said.

Back at his apartment, he said, his neighbours rang the door bell if he was not out of the house after a particular time in the morning.

“I insist on seeing an identity card before opening the grill gate when a stranger lands at the doorstep,” he said.

V. Sivakumar, joint director, HelpAge India, Chennai, said, in the case of elderly person living alone, apartments could maintain ledgers with their details.

“We ask them to keep emergency numbers, including those of relatives, friends, and the police, on speed dial, among other things, because they are a vulnerable section,” he said, adding, retirement homes were only for those who could afford it.

A senior police officer said the city police regularly interacted with residents’ welfare associations on the safety of all residents, including senior citizens.

Every police station maintained some database of senior citizens and local beat officers normally visited their homes, said the officer.

(Reporting by Deepa H. Ramakrishnan, Asha Sridhar, Kavitha Kishore and R. Srikanth)

Keywords: Chennai crimes

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