“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
During the Covid 19 pandemic, Helplines run by non-profits are being flooded with distress calls from senior citizens. Initially, in the early phases of the lockdown in India, the calls were mostly about access to essential items such as basic day-to-day living supplies and rations, medical support etc, however elders are now reaching out to helplines out of sheer loneliness, anxiety and depression, wanting just to talk to someone and share their fears and grievances with.
Due to the pandemic lockdown, cases of elder abuse and bereavement also amplified,increasing the growing distress and health risk for elders. HelpAge India is reaching out to elders and Senior Citizens Association members enquiring about their health and requirement for essential supplies and medicines, as well as providing counselling, to ease their loneliness and anxiety.
Millions of people have been affected by the pandemic, and have lost their jobs and livelihood. 65% of India’s elders as per a HelpAge survey, stated that the COVID 19 lockdown impacted their livelihood, and they had no Work or faced a drastic loss in their wages. They had no means of sustaining themselves and had to depend on their savings or others for support. The poor and disadvantaged elders were hit the hardest, as they had no income and no means to survive.
Mr. Shailesh Kumar, 60 plus,from Muzaffarpur (Bihar) was one such case. A teacher by profession in a private school, he was hit hard by the lockdown. Ever since the number of positive cases of Covid 19 started to rise in the country, schools, colleges and universities were shut down and the education system froze. Many educational institutions were no longer able to pay their teachers as the parents of students struggled to submit fees, the source of their income. Kumar hasn’t received his salary for the past few months and with no income, he was forced to spend his savings. His family consisting of five other members were all dependent on him, including his sick parents, his wife and children.
“We’re surviving on what we have saved so far, but now that is almost over and we are almost about to starve!” –said Kumar. Devastated, he called HelpAge India’s Elder Helpline number (1800-180-1253) and requested for ration, a Survival Kit for himself & his family, so they could have the basic essentials to survive.
The HelpAge Elder Helpline team responded immediately and provided him with some money and dry basic essentials through Covid SOS volunteers. The Helpline team further requested the HelpAge Mobile Healthcare teamin Muzaffarpur to follow-up with Kumar and provide basic medical healthcare and support to his parents who were suffering.
It is for elders like Kumar that the Elder Helpline team in partnership with the Covid SOS team, is reaching out to disadvantaged elders with a dedicated staff and team of volunteers, addressing their needs during the pandemic providing, groceries, medicines, healthcare etc., delivering them to their doorsteps across the country.
HelpAge has a strong network of Mobile Healthcare Units (MHUs) with a doctor, pharmacist & social worker, who reach out to the needy elders in urban slums and rural India going deep into the interiors, to make elders & their communities aware about Covid-19safety measures and provide them with basic free healthcare and medicines.
In many states, the Mobile Healthcare Unit is reaching out to elder beneficiaries suffering from chronic diseases and providing them with much needed medical assistance, through home visits. In some areas, the MHU is operating as an ambulance, transporting elder patients to hospitals for their treatment and check-ups.
In few states, elders who need urgent medical attention or others who might be suspected Covid-19 patients, are being transported to the district hospitals in consultation with the local administration, so that they receive proper care in time.
It is in times such as these, that we thank all the Corona Warriors who are putting their lives at risk to help those that need it most. We salute them for their unshaken spirit & dedication.