The mysterious deaths of an elderly couple in a posh south Delhi neighbourhood has once again highlighted how the city’s senior citizens continue to remain vulnerable and lonely despite a host of steps taken by the police and government.The couple was among 35,415 senior citizens who were under the watch of the Delhi Police and would be frequently visited by the local beat personnel. Police regularly meet and call elderly citizens registered with them to ensure that they feel safe, are not harassed by anyone or suffer from depression. Last year, according to police records 1,433 such visits to the homes of senior citizens were made by the police every day on an average. Yet, 61 senior citizens fell prey to heinous crimes. Most of the registered senior citizens are residents of the city’s posh neighbourhoods. Police said it is mainly the elders living in such neighbourhoods who are targeted by criminals. “Those living in the middle or lower economic neighbourhoods have their relatives and neighbours watching over them,” said a senior police officer.“The upper-middle class neighbourhoods in Delhi have many elderly people living alone as their children are either settled abroad or in other Indian cities. They are seen as easy targets by the criminals. In many cases, we have also seen that they suffer from depression,” said the officer.But the regular visits by the local police only have a limited role to play in dealing with the loneliness of the city’s elderly. That sense of loneliness makes the elderly even more vulnerable.“We have often seen youngsters not having time for their elderly parents. Due to the absence of social interactions, the old people are ignorant of their vulnerability and end up allowing strangers inside their homes. That is why you will often find friendly entries into the houses of senior citizens who were murdered,” said Himanshu Rath, the founder chairman of Agewell Foundation.JR Gupta, president of the Senior Citizen Council, says that the issues of loneliness and depression of the city’s elderly are catered to some extent by the presence of around 100 recreational centres for senior citizens. “These centres address the issue of neglect and loneliness,” said Gupta, adding that more such centres would be helpful.