Objective behind starting the helpline is to help senior citizens who are in distress in every possible manner, says A N Roy
Can you help me find a wife? I am lonely after my wife died and now I am looking forward to marrying again,” said a 75-year-old man over the phone.
This was not a call to a marriage bureau but to a special telephone helpline which has been started by the Mumbai Police to help senior citizens. Elderly people in the city can seek help from the police on various issues by calling them on “elderline”. The helpline, which started in June 2006, has received calls from around 15,000 senior citizens till date, about their respective problems.
Mumbai Police Commissioner AN Roy, who had suggested the idea of a helpline for elderly, said, “The main objective behind starting the helpline was to help senior citizens, who are in distress, in every possible manner.”
According to the police, policemen with the help of about 1,000 volunteers visit the residences of those senior citizens who are in need of help. In addition, 370 doctors and 140 hospitals all over Mumbai have registered themselves with the police to help senior citizens in case of an emergency.
The police constables and volunteers, besides taking care of their safety, also help the senior citizens with several other day-to-day issues.
For instance, after a senior citizen informed the police on how she was being harassed by her son everyday, the police filed a complaint against her son.
Among 125 calls received everyday from senior citizens seeking help, the call from a 75-year-old seeking a wife left the police officials baffled. Unable to provide any kind of solution, the officials suggested to the man to call up a marriage bureau to find a match.
Commenting on the call, Sanjay Mohite, deputy commissioner of police (enforcement) said, “It was funny and sad at the same time. The senior citizen was adamant on getting a wife, that too a young one, but finally we persuaded him to call the marriage bureau.”
According to the police, the problems of senior citizens vary from safety issues to cleaning up of toilets. Aruna Chaudhry (64), a resident of Bandra is among the regular callers. She calls the helpline everyday seeking assistance for daily chores likes preparing a cup of tea to paying her electricity bills.