Elders, dependent on others for help, at a loss on how to tackle the lockdown

More pain in store for them, say activists

The lockdown has created unexpected problems for the elderly. And, for those living alone, the issues are more stark.

Jothi*, an 88-year-old woman, had a cook coming in daily. Everything was fine until Tuesday. The cook came on her two-wheeler, finished her chores and left.

Now, with the country-wide shutdown, she is afraid to step out.

On Wednesday, she managed to make her way to the workplace but is worried she cannot do it in the days to come.

Ms. Jothi says she cannot ask the cook to stay as the latter has a large family of her own. It took her several months to train the cook and the octogenerian is worried that eating other kinds of food will cause health problems.

Ms. Jothi’s problem can be solved if she is able to contact the tahsildar or the local sub-inspector and explain the position at home by providing a letter, S.M. Chellasamy, treasurer of the Tamil Nadu Elders Welfare Association, said. But Ms. Jothi is wary of letting people know that she lives alone.

A resident of Mylapore, whose mother is bed-ridden after a stroke, has been wondering how to get a physiotherapist to help her.

“She used to undergo physiotherapy daily. But the therapist stopped her visits after the lockdown last week. She is afraid older people will contract infection as she visits many other old patients,” he said.

B. Meenakshi lives in Virugambakkam. Her mother-in-law requires an attendant round-the-clock. Ms. Meenakshi had a paid nurse to tend to her during the day. Following the lockdown, she requested the attendant to stay with the family.

“She is with us for some days. I am planning to call for a replacement next week,” she said. The arrangement would prevent daily visits. Her apartment complex has strict rules about entry of visitors, she added.

Pensioners’ woes

Beyond these concerns, what is worrying is that in the first week of April, elders come to banks to collect their pension, said T. Sadagopan, an activist in Pattabhiram. The pensioners come in large numbers to banks, he said.

“Major nationalised banks such as SBI, Indian Bank and IOB have the largest number of pensioners. People must place their thumb impression to get their pension amount. Does the government have an alternative to this,” he asked.

(*Name changed on request)

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 2:06:10 PM |

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