“I stay alone since my husband passed away three years ago and my children are settled abroad. I was lonely since I rarely left the house and did not have any friends. A year ago, I registered with Elderline. I call the helpline every day, sometimes even thrice a day, just to talk,” said Vinita Kamble (76), a resident of Marine Drive, who is physically challenged.
Like Kamble, many senior citizens call Elderline just to chat. The helpline receives more than 70 calls a day from its registered members. Most of these calls are from seniors living in South Mumbai.
“We get more calls and registrations from areas like Malabar Hill, Cuffe Parade, Colaba and Napensea Road. Even domestic staffers’ registrations are higher in these areas,” said Police Inspector Firoz Patel, who is in charge of Elderline.
In South Mumbai, 6,300 seniors and their domestic staff had registered till May 17; 551 of them were from Malabar Hill and 1,034 from Girgaum.
In the west, 13,948 had registered with most registrations from Juhu (1,340) and Oshiwara (1,253).
Patel said there was greater awareness about Elderline in these areas — which are among the city’s most affluent — as residents are more educated. Also, more of them stay alone.
Registration of domestic staff was the highest in Malabar Hill. “This is because of the police and housing society officials are taking the effort to get seniors registered.
“The societies have made it compulsory for domestic staff and those who deliver milk, provide laundry services, etc, to give their photos and addresses for identity cards that allow entry into the building,” said Patel.
Many domestic staffers refuse to get registered as they fear they would automatically be branded suspects in case of a crime. “This is a voluntary effort; we cannot force someone to register,” Patel said.
When the staff is told to register, many either quit their jobs or simply disappear.