BENGALURU: The number of senior citizens calling for help on the Elders Helpline (1090) has almost doubled in the last five years. It was 7,814 in 2011-12 and it increased to 15,932 in 2015-16. The helpline is a joint project by Bengaluru City Police and NGO Nightingales Medical Trust.
Interestingly, statistics from the elders helpline reveal that only a few senior citizens prefer to register complaints. The helpline received only 1,635 complaints between April 2011 and March 2016, of which a majority of cases (658) were related to harassment and cheating by family members. Among the other cases were harassment and cheating by private agencies (296) and individuals (207).
In a majority of complaints, senior citizens complained of negligence by children and taking their assets illegally. There were also several cases of the elderly being denied food, treatment and even being subject to abuse by their children and other family members.
The helpline has provided counselling to 10,989 senior citizens, legal assistance to 2,074 and referred 222 cases for police intervention between 2011-12 and 2015-16. It also received 1,466 calls
asking for contact details of old age homes.
Bengaluru has at least 10 lakh senior citizens, of whom about 3 lakh face some form of physical, emotional and financial abuse.
Dr Radha S Murthy, managing trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust, said elderly people face new challenges because of changing lifestyle and absence of a joint family system. “They also face financial insecurity because of the escalating cost of living. Many elders are harassed by their own family and deprived of their legitimate rights. Unfortunately, abuses against the elderly rarely get reported,” she said. She added that elderly people are easy targets for violence and crime due to their inability to protect themselves.
City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood said senior citizens are more vulnerable to financial frauds. “I have seen several cases of senior citizens being cheated by private financing agencies and real estate firms. Some of them even deposited all their savings to financial firms, many of which are fake.” He said there should be more awareness among senior citizens about financial security. “It is the responsibility for each family to give emotional security to the elderly,” he said.