Lakshmi calls a senior citizen from the list provided to her by the Foundation. She has also drawn up her own list of seniors who need such help. “I have at least one caller a day. There are days when more than two would call. The average duration of these calls lies somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour,” says Lakshmi, who has been engaged in this service for many years now.
Many seniors, she says, are happy talking/venting out to another senior citizen and bond better when the other person is on the same wave-length.
Before the pandemic, Lakshmi visited some of these seniors at their home to play a game of carrom-board with them, accompany them to the hospital or read a book for them.
Dignity Foundation has 11 volunteers, including a few college students, who have signed up to offer this kind of service to anyone calling on their helpline number (6380080496).
“For college students, we offered a small stipend as travel allowance but due to the pandemic, we do not have home visits now,” says Felista Jose, Chennai chapter head, Dignity Foundation.
She says this service is open to anyone who is aged above 60. “We have not promoted this initiative optimally. If a caller requests that they want to speak to someone on a regular basis, we arrange for it,” says Felista.
HelpAge India also offers a similar kind of service where calls coming to their helpline number (1800 180 1253) are attended by one of the staff.
“Last year, we also ran errands for seniors. That has however become a challenge in these times,” says R. Muthukrishnan, senior manager, HelpAge India.
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