Bengaluru

Some elderly citizens prefer to be left alone

In Isolation:Many senior citizens, who are said to make up at least 10 per cent of the city’s population, are closing their windows to any form of socialising.— PHOTO: Bhagya Prakash K.

In Isolation:Many senior citizens, who are said to make up at least 10 per cent of the city’s population, are closing their windows to any form of socialising.— PHOTO: Bhagya Prakash K.  

Reasons range from a wish to lead an ‘independent life’ to a general suspicion of others

Less than a fortnight ago, Bengaluru woke up to the news of the death of an elderly couple in Sultanpalya.

Their death was discovered by neighbours only after foul smell began emanating from their house.

The couple, retired constable Venkoba Rao (80) and his wife Kalavathi Bai (76), led an isolated life. But their voluntary seclusion is not an anomaly, said counsellors.

For reasons ranging from a wish to lead an ‘independent life’ to a general suspicion of others, many senior citizens, who are said to make up at least 10 per cent of the city’s population, are closing their windows to any form of socialising.

This sometimes goes to the extent of not welcoming help, however much they need it. The staff of the elders’ helpline comes across many such cases.

“The neighbour of a 70-year-old woman in Malleswaram called to say that she was alone and in trouble. When we called on her, the elderly lady admonished us and sent us away,” said a counsellor.

In another case, the staff was alerted about an elderly couple in their 80s in east Bengaluru, who were living in a rented house. When contacted, the couple insisted that they need no help and that they would voluntarily seek help, if required.

“There is a lot of hesitation, even if they are alone, to seek help. In some cases, they will call us once in a while and talk to us. But they refuse any alternative, such as shifting into an old age home,” the counsellor said.

“In some cases, the children are abroad. In India, there is also this sentiment of looking after property, guarding it and leaving it behind for the next generation. Because of this, many senior citizens continue to live in big, empty houses when they can rent it out or mortgage it and live a better life,” said Radha S. Murthy, managing trustee of Nightingales Medical Trust, which runs the elders’ helpline with the Bengaluru police.

But in a city like Bengaluru, where the old and the young do not know who their neighbours are, the elderly do not have much of an option other than keep to themselves and their loneliness, pointed out a counsellor.



What can senior citizens do?

Take basic safety measures

These include police verification of whoever they employ

Try living in a community with mixed population (and not just the elderly)

Talk to neighbours

Involve themselves in groups and activities

Seek help when they need it

What can

well-wishers do?

Call on lonely senior citizens or elderly couples near you

Ask if they need anything

If you sense they are in trouble, seek help

Call the helpline for elders



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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 2:09:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/Some-elderly-citizens-prefer-to-be-left-alone/article14384972.ece

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