The phone rang a couple of times and finally gave into a silence followed by a trail of beeps. He picked up the phone again and dialled the same number. The same ordeal and finally an automated message of connectivity issues echoed through it. He, however, continued.
With each try, the knot in his chest grew tighter, his pace faster as he scaled the room, one hand on his forehead, another holding the mobile phone. His restless fingers frantically scrolling through the contact list in pursuit of finding a neighbour’s number.
The double whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic and Cyclone Amphan left many people, like my friend, worried sick about their elderly parents and relatives. And this worry was not momentary. Although it was aggravated by the current situation, it is rather constant for anyone who lives away from home.
It can be a huge challenge to constantly ensure the well-being of your parents. And so in order to bridge this gap, several helplines, organizations and support communities have come together to revolutionise eldercare through holistic perspectives.
Here are a five exemplary initiatives:
Started in 2019 in Chennai, Swasmos is a preventive healthcare company focused on providing care for the elderly. From phlebotomists performing diagnostic tests at home, running labs and managing reports with a panel of doctors, to facilitating regular checks for assessing the emotional, mental and social well-being of the seniors, Swasmos does it all. And they do so by fully involving users (parents) and their caretakers or wards.
A Bengaluru-based startup, Dozee under its senior-care segment, has created a unique technology—a contact-free health monitor. For this, all one needs to do is just place the sheet-like monitor under the mattress and sleep.
The monitor through its indicators assesses the user’s heart health, sleep condition and stress, and sends a comprehensive analysis of their health condition to the Dozee app on their phones, as well as that of their caretakers or children.
Using the AI-powered system, the application tracks their heart, stress levels, respiration, etc, to provide a 360° view of their health condition, and all of this data is made available to their kin with just a click.
A Pune-based health and lifestyle retail company and e-commerce platform for senior citizens, Seniority was started in 2016 with the vision to cater to all consumer needs of the elders—from daily supplies, medicines, mobility aid to wellness equipment.
Keeping in mind the high health risks and vulnerability of the elders in a critical pandemic situation, Seniority has not only been extending support to the elders by delivering essentials but has also launched a helpline.
In collaboration with DocsApp, Seniority has launched a 24*7 helpline support to provide awareness, assistance and access to medical professionals.
Additionally, it has also partnered with RPG Life Sciences to design a COVID-19 risk-tracking service, called SafeSeniors, to help seniors pre-empt the infection, through analytical data of medical condition, symptoms, social exposure history, etc.
4. Caremongers India
Driven by the motto, ‘Stop Scaremongering, Start Caremongering,’ Mahita Nagaraj’s initiative, is a pan-India volunteer delivery group, that provides groceries and medicines to the elders. The idea behind this was concocted after a series of distress calls from friends based abroad who wanted to look out for their parents and meet their daily needs but were unable to do so.
“Doctors worldwide have advised senior citizens to practise social distancing to the utmost. Many of my relatives and friends who are settled abroad are worried about the health and safety of their elderly parents in Bengaluru. I decided to volunteer for them and deliver essential groceries, rations and medicines at their doorsteps,” shares Mahita.
Soon this personal project expanded into a social media movement, through the Caremongers India public group on Facebook which now has over 500 volunteers across several cities including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Ernakulam, Noida, Gujarat, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc.
5. Other helplines for senior citizens by government bodies
Ahmedabad (Amdavad Municipal Corporation): 9825192000
Bengaluru (Elders Helpline by Bengaluru City Police): 1090
Delhi (mobile application- Delhi Police Senior Citizen): 1291
Goa (Corporation of the City of Panaji): 08047191000
Kolkata Police: 9830088884
Mumbai (Elder Line): 1090
Navi Mumbai: 022027574928; 9321599806 & 9321592941 (WhatsApp)
Thiruvananthapuram City Police: 180059911111
Tamil Nadu Police: 044-28590804; 044-28599188
While assistance though such organisations or government agencies is coming up, several inspiring efforts by citizens on social media and beyond is helping many sail through the difficult times. If you know of any initiative that can be included here, please do let us know in the comments.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)