News : Steep Hike in Calls to Helpline
Bengaluru, India, October, 2015 -- The Elders Helpline 1090 in the city has seen more than more 50 per cent jump in the number of calls handled during 2014-15 over the previous year, with a large number of callers seeking medical help and seeking information on senior citizens’ home. This trend, activists point out, was due to the increase in the population of the elderly and also increased awareness about their rights.
As many as 16,236 calls were received in 2014-15 as against 10,634 in 2013-14. The increase is not only with regard to the number of calls but also with regard to the complaints that are registered.
S. Premkumar Raja, co-founder of Nightingales Medical Trust, which runs the helpline along with the Bengaluru City Police said that majority of the senior citizens approach the helpline for some assistant or deal with a crisis but are not willingly to register a case or approach the police as the complaint is against a family member, he said.
However, he said that they mandatorily file police cases when it is a case of physical or verbal abuse. The elders’ helpline tries to intervene by calling the complainant as well as the one against whom a complaint has been made for counselling sessions. Notices are sent to the person against the complainant and if it is ignored twice, the third notice is served by the police.
Those who approach the helpline often tend to delay asking for help as they feel that it would bring disrepute to the family. A 69-year-old senior citizen from east Bengaluru along with her daughter made a frantic call to the helpline after her husband physically abused her. She said that the problem has now been resolved after they went for counselling sessions.
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However, many like the 73-year-old Asha Gowda (name changed), who have sought assistant from the helpline, vouch for their services. "My tenant was harassing me and I live alone and had no help. I made one call to the helpline and within minutes their staff arrived at my doorstep and helped me solve the problem with him," she said.
Does not function after 8 p.m.
Although the Elders Helpline 1090 is flooded with calls from senior citizens in need of help, those desperate for help after 8 p.m. may not be able to avail themselves of the services. The helpline is operational between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and the calls after 8 p.m. are diverted to the police control room. Another problem with the helpline is that calls made phones with connections from some service providers do not reach the helpline.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, October 5, 2015
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