Online Helpline for the Elderly

Online Helpline for the Elderly

NEW DELHI: To assist the elderly and their family members to find solutions to various concerns and problems of old age, a new helpline has been introduced by non governmental organisation Agewell Foundation.

The NGO says it has been running a phone helpline for the past 15 years and with more people using the Internet, it has now ventured into the online space.

“When we had started the first ever phone helpline 15 years ago, most of the callers were old people in the age group of 60 to 67 years. They were more vocal about their concerns and problems,” says Himanshu Rath, founder Chairman of Agewell Foundation.

Mr Rath says over the years the age profile of callers has gone through a sea change and “old people from the age group of 70-80 years also contact for seeking solutions of their respective problems quite regularly.”

“We receive queries from all over the world especially from the United States and Canada where two or three generations of people live under one roof. Often times it is a case of finding a person to talk to and unburden themselves of various things. Our volunteers are trained to just listen and look for the common triggers of the old,” says Mr Rath.

He points out the NGO recieves many queries over email by young people who are curious about various issues concerning old age.

“They are more interested in understanding the needs of older people and how to deal with them,” Mr Rath says.

Analysis of Helpline records show that while previously younger among the old i.e in the age group of 60- 67 years were eager to find solutions now even those in the age group of 67 plus seek assistance.

“In addition, the younger people are also equally agitated in dealing with old people but at the same time are eager to find solutions and methodologies for a peaceful
co-existence,” Mr Rath says. 

With about 80,000 volunteers in about 640 districts of the country, the organisation’s helpline promises to deliver free of cost assistance for older people their family members and caregivers.

“With active participation of professionally qualified volunteers from social, medical, legal and financial fields the helpline for older persons is the easiest way for generations to come together and complement each other,” says Mr Rath.

While most problems cited by elderly abroad are feeling lost and helpless those from inside the country verge on social and technical details related to pension or property matters, says Mr Rath.

“Those people who write to us from US or Canada are those who went there 50 to 60 years ago and have settled there. Now they live in joint families and their business are run by their children and grandchildren.  They have lost touch with their roots and they cant come back home and feel helpless,” says Mr Rath.

The NGO, which has been granted a Special Consultative Status at the United  Nations offers a range of assistance is spread over social, emotional, health related, legal, financial or interpersonal factors. 

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