The ElderLine, a helpline created by the Mumbai police to provide assistance to senior citizens, has received calls about several kinds of inquiries and complaints, ranging from problems with domestic help, to simply for counselling.
According to the statistics, the helpline has received the most calls — 20,681 — for counselling purposes. “A lot of senior citizens are staying alone in the city. It is obvious that loneliness creeps in and they need to speak to someone who can cater to their needs by simply counselling them or speaking to them for a while,” said inspector Feroz Patel, who works with the helpline.
The police said that the ElderLine staff has been provided training by psychiatrists associated with the NGO, Helpage India, particularly training them in dealing with senior citizens on issues like depression and loneliness.
Other calls made by senior citizens include seeking information about traffic, medical help, registration of senior citizens, complaints against domestic help, assistance with electricity, gas and other domestic services, among others.
If a senior citizen is calling to complain about a theft or robbery at the helpline, the policemen answering the call directs a policeman for the elderly's assistance. “The motive is to provide immediate assistance and to improve the relationship between the police and citizens,” said Patel.
“Registration of senior citizens is of utmost importance and has helped a great deal in reducing crimes against them. However, despite the helpline, not many elderly have come forward to register themselves with the helpline. It is probably because there is not much awareness about the service,” said a police official who did not wish to be named.