Kerala

Elder Line to the rescue of destitute senior citizens

An elderly couple fell on hard times after the husband, the sole breadwinner employed in the private sector, became ill and could not go to work. Their savings were wiped out. As the couple had no children, and their immediate kin could not accommodate them, they lived with friends for a time. Worried about having to lean on others, the husband sunk into a depression.

However, a report on Elder Line, a toll-free helpline (14567) for the elderly, caught his eye, and he called up seeking help. Field response officer (FRO) Vishnu K. S. then met the couple, and saw how much the change in their circumstances had affected the couple. Besides providing them mental health support, he began attempts to rehabilitate them. Very few institutions though allowed a couple to stay together. The search continued until an old-age home in Thalassery agreed to put them up. Vishnu and the couple then visited the home, which they found to their liking. Today, the couple lives at the home, happy in the company of others of their age. Every weekend, they speak to Vishnu to update him about their life.

15 rescues in 3 months

Elderline has rescued more than 15 persons since its launch on November 1 last till January and shifted them to old-age homes. The rescues are done by seven field response officers for the 14 districts.

Recently, a complaint to a District Collector led the Elderline field response officer Aswathy L. visiting an elderly man, who was divorced and received no maintenance from his children. He had a wound on his leg that was festering owing to diabetes. He was also found to have Hepatitis (B). However, his family refused to take him back, following which it was decided to put him up in an institution in Pathanapuram. It was at this stage that he was found to have pulmonary tuberculosis, and new arrangements had to be thought of by Aswathy, with the support of Social Justice Department technical assistant Renjith and other department officials.

The man’s family had failed to provide an exact status on his health, which then had to be confirmed from the hospital where he had received initial treatment for TB. In the meanwhile, his family was counselled to accommodate him for a couple of more days, while arrangements were made to shift him to the TB specialty centre at Karunagapally, where he is currently in.

FROs say they face a number of challenges during rescue of the elderly and their rehabilitation. Some people may need to be moved from their house because they are alone or unwell, while others may have to be taken off the street. Some families may not be cooperative at all, even though the system is ready to do the needful, they say.

48 rescue calls

The total number of rescue calls received on Elderline is 48, but rescues are not possible if the caller is below 55, or an elderly person is not willing to shift to an old-age home. They are also not required if relatives can be convinced to take care of the elderly or their children persuaded to provide them maintenance. In a few cases, the elderly have died in hospital before they can be moved to an old-age home, says the Elderline team. Besides rescues within the State, one man from Andhra Pradesh was also rescued from the street and reunited with his family.


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 11:08:28 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/elder-line-to-the-rescue-of-destitute-senior-citizens/article38371777.ece