Care For Homeless Elderly
According to a survey in 2019, there are more than 1.8 Million homeless people in India. A large section of it is elderly and they do not have anywhere to go. The life of these elderly homeless people is unsafe, unhealthy and are often deprived of the basic requirement of life like food, medicine etc. Identifying these people in need and connecting them to the right support system could make a huge difference in the lives of many.
There was a call from a person informing about an elderly lady lying in a bus shelter. He informed that she seemed to have an injury in her foot and suggested to shift her to an old age home. The elderly lady aged about 76 years old belonged to a village in Khammam district. She had no family to look after her, so she started going around begging for alms from door to door.
When the case was forwarded to the field response officer (FRO), she gathered all the details about the elderly person and learnt that she was provided shelter in Anganwadi earlier, but the biggest challenge was that others residing in that shelter were unable to tolerate her presence. This elderly person never cared to take bath and in spite of being advised to maintain basic hygiene, she did not pay heed to their words. There were days when her clothes would smell of urine, yet she never changed her clothes. Due to her unhygienic conditions, it became challenging to retain her in Anganwadi.
The next set of challenge being this that none of the old age homes were willing to give shelter due to the very same reason. With no other option left, she had to be accommodated in an orphanage temporarily and later was taken for check up to a nearby clinic. Later, even the orphanage refused to give her accommodation so the FRO had to literally plead Daiva Krupa organisation to temporarily keep the elderly person. After a lot of persuasion, and after being offered extra amount a worker agreed to clean up the elderly person. Her hair was trimmed, and she was given proper bath. She then appeared to be tidy and was then shifted to another old age home where they accepted to accommodate her on the condition that ANM should visit weekly once to enquire the status of the elderly person.
In this entire process, there were several challenges like – the elderly person herself being reluctant to join the old age home, convincing her about her own welfare, convincing the caller that she was not thrown in an orphanage but temporarily accommodated as the old age homes did not agree to keep the elderly person, shifting her from one place to another, getting her cleaned up and getting the check-up done and finally requesting the old age home to accommodate her etc. All this requires not just patience but complete dedication towards one’s duty and kudos to the team who did not give up at any stage!
Elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”. It can be of various forms – Physical, Psychological, Financial, or emotional. It can be intentional wherein the abuser tries to intentionally harm the elderly, or it can be unintentional where it is the negligence of people that makes the elderly feel unsafe.
There was a call by an elderly lady informing about an elderly couple who were being abused in her village. The issue was that the elderly person’s two nephews were harassing him for property. Their only son who is around 35 years old, has certain mental issue, hence they did not have anyone to support them.
The elderly person owns good amount of property which was written in will by his brother. After the demise of the brother, his two nephews started abusing him for property, which was mental as well as physical. Later, some local goons were hired to ensure that they vacate their house. To add to their agony, an acquaintance of their village pretended to help them and sweet talked them into selling away one of their properties for a negligible amount and in turn gave them an accommodation which was of much lesser value. As part of the sale deal, he was supposed to transfer 11 lakhs to the account of the elderly person, but he transferred only 7 lakhs and when the elderly person asked for the balance 4 lakhs, he kept dodging them.
On knowing the situation, the Elder Line team member took the help of the Police Station and called his nephews to the police station, where he got strongly warned and counselled the two nephews of the consequences if the elderly person’s property was not returned. Similarly, even the acquaintance was warned to return their money which he did within no time.
The elderly couple are not only happy that they got the amount back but are also very grateful to the Elder Line member who helped them out during the time of their crisis. They are now leading a peaceful life.
(Note: Names are not disclosed to protect the identity of the caller)