New solutions for old problems
Empowering elders with digital skills - Kiran Karnik
Preparing for the golden years
MODI GOVERNMENT'S BOON FOR SENIOR CITIZENS TOTALLY FREE
The Central Government has launched an excellent consulting scheme for senior citizens and all other citizens. Elderly people, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., cannot be rushed to the hospital for OPD. They seek treatment at home for minor ailments like headaches, physical pain, but are not ready to go to the hospital. You can access it on Google Chrome via the link below. Note:
1. Select patient registration.
2. Type your mobile number. Type OTP on mobile for registration.
3. Enter patient details and district. Now, you will connect with the doctor online. After that, you can consult a doctor for any of your health problems through the video. The doctor will prescribe the medicine online. You can take the medicine by showing it in the medical pharmacy shop.
This service is completely free. You can use this service every day from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm, including Sunday.
Please send this to senior citizens in your contact list.
This is the Central Government website: https://www.eSanjeevaniopd.in
Chennai’s elderly have somebody to lean on
Chitra Deepa Anantharam
City-based organisation Udhavi bridges the gap between the young and old, providing the city’s senior citizens with support and cheer
When author, playwright, novelist and textile researcher Sabita Radhakrishnan decided to launch an NGO for elder care and support in 2013, she was clear about one aspect. Apart from providing geriatric support, she also wanted to spread cheer. “The elderly (over 65 years) population in the city is on the rise, and is largely neglected. As long as they live as couples, they manage, but after one of them departs, they begin to seek support, and the quality of life decreases with their children living and working outside the country,” says Sabita. “Our country is not at all elderly-friendly, be it easy access to buildings or priority to services.”
During her growing-up years in Bangalore, where her father was a medical practitioner, she had always had elders, especially grandparents, stay with the family. “I have such good memories of playing board games, listening to stories. My father believed that if old people had good mental health, it reflected in their physical wellbeing. In his hospital, he also accommodated nurses and matrons whose children simply abandoned them here and migrated to Australia and England. These people lived within the nursing home.” So Sabita was naturally inclined to take up service to elders as an adult.
“I decided to start an NGO to support the elderly population in memory of my daughter who passed away at a young age. But I could not do it all by myself, and started looking out for like-minded people,” says Sabita. She approached the founders of Old is Gold store in Adyar, KP Jayashree and Sanjay Dattatri, and they joined hands. Today, Udhavi has 13 core members and over 40 volunteers.
“The mission of Udhavi is to stave off loneliness,” says Sabita. “The idea that someone has the time to spend with them excites the beneficiaries, most of whom have had full-fledged careers, loving spouses and extended families. With many offspring living outside the country, it does become a great deal for them to even chat with anyone in person,” she says.
Lalitha Ramachander, one of the core group members, says that they encourage volunteers to make house visits and spend time with the beneficiaries — play a game of Scrabble, accompany them to the doctor, collect their outfits from tailor, take then to a movie or a concert, drive them to park or beach, or even chat over a plate of dosa and filter coffee.
Says Sudhesh Sharma, another core group member, “As far as possible, we match the profiles and intellectual levels of the beneficiaries and the volunteers so that they spend meaningful time together. We need young volunteers as these seniors say that they feel rejuvenated when a youngster spends quality time with them.”
But the younger ones are not doing it all one. According to Sabita, “Our committed core team at times goes out of their way to provide support and care, even though they themselves are in the 60s. One of our core team members even sends vegetarian food to beneficiaries who miss home-cooked food whenever possible,” says Sabita. She says that even elders who live with their children often feel lonely as they spend the entire day all by themselves. “I want young people to understand what it is to be old and what kind of support is to be provided. We take our parents for granted.”
Down memory lane
Volunteers also teach the elderly to use the Internet, Skype and smartphones. While some of the beneficiaries of Udhavi prefer to get out of their homes with volunteers, some prefer to be in their home environment and chat. A Bengali playwright and a scholar, Sundanda Ghosh, loves to go to Besant Nagar beach and stop for a cup of coffee and snack once in a while, as she has lived in the locality for many decades and the drive brings back pleasant memories.
Last year, after Dr Sridhar Vaitheswaran was roped in as their consultant psychiatrist, they have started visits to patients identified by him. The core team underwent training in handling mentally ill seniors. “We wanted insights into the life of people with dementia, Alzheimer’s and various other conditions, so that we can understand the challenges and provide necessary support,” Sabita says.
Time, not money
As a policy, Udhavi does not accept any cash donations. They only seek volunteers who can spend their time. Once every quarter, the core team contributes to expenditures incurred. “We utilise these funds to reimburse taxi, entertainment and other expenses incurred by volunteers,” says Kalpana Ramani of the core team.
“We are now trying to focus on elders in the underprivileged section of our society by helping them procure Aadhar card, insurance card and avail Government benefits,” says Sabitha, who has recently published a booklet, Handbook For Silvers, an elaborate set of guidelines for seniors living by themselves.
Another beneficiary is civic activist and long time-resident of Besant Nagar, 93-year old Kamakshi Subramaniyan, well known as Kamakshi Patti among her neighbours. She says, “They usually send two volunteers for hospital visits. I live on my own and manage fairly well, but of late I have felt the need for help with shopping. I simply love to chat away with Udhavi volunteers, and I wish they come more often.” .
Call Udhavi at 9790704874.
The Hindu, 16th March, 2020
Loneliness can be as bad for health as smoking or obesity
NEW YORK: Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity and has become a public health concern, especially for older adults, say researchers. With older adults increasingly moving into senior living or retirement communities, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine sought to identify the common characteristics of residents who feel lonely in these environments.
The new study, published in the journal “Aging and Mental Health”, found that people’s experience of living with loneliness is shaped by a number of personal and environmental factors. Age-associated losses and inadequate social skills were considered primary risk factors for loneliness.
“Some residents talked about the loss of spouses, siblings and friends as the cause of their loneliness. Others mentioned how making new friends in a senior community cannot replace deceased friends they grew up with,” said Alejandra Paredes, a research fellow in the department of psychiatry at University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
The feeling of loneliness was frequently associated with a lack of purpose in life.
Others expressed a sense of “not being attached, not having very much meaning and not feeling very hopeful” or “being lost and not having control”. The research team also found that wisdom, including compassion, seemed to be a factor that prevented loneliness. Other protective factors were acceptance of aging and comfort with being alone.
Researchers conducted individual interviews of 30 adults of ages 67-92, part of an overall study evaluating the physical, mental and cognitive functions of 100 older adults living in independent living sector of a senior housing community in San Diego. “It is important that we identify the underlying causes of loneliness from the seniors’ own perspectives so we can help resolve it and improve the overall health, well-being and longevity of our aging population,” suggested senior author Dilip V. Jeste, senior distinguished professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Times Of India - Jan 13, 2020
A ‘panic button’ to help elders
Vaishali R Venkat
Here is a free device for underprivileged seniors to bail them out of emergencies
Aathma Foundation has launched ‘Aathma Panic Button,’ a device for senior citizens that is meant to help them in emergencies.
Water-proof, the device can be worn even when the person is taking a bath. The button works on the basis of a platform called Cuckoo Server, which converts sound waves into a voicemail. The moment a person presses the panic button, a pre-recorded voicemail about him/her is sent as three messages — to the 108 ambulance, a neighbour and an immediate relative.
Someone in charge of 108 ambulance will call the neighbour or the relative and ask them about the condition of the person. If he is fine, the matter ends there. Otherwise, the ambulance will arrive at the spot in ten minutes.
Earlier, at an inauguration function held at the Egmore museum, the device was given free-of-cost to 100 senior citizens in need.
Next month, the Foundation will give away 100 free buttons to underprivileged senior citizens. However, for those who could afford it, the device comes at a cost of Rs.7,500.
In addition to the panic button, the Foundation gives free medicines to those having diabetes, hypertension or cardiac conditions.
The free medicines is couriered along with a “bill of receipt”, to patient’s house. The bill has to be signed and a photo of it sent to the Foundation’s WhatsApp number. Once the signature is received, the cost of the medicines will be paid to Muthu Pharamacy, which supports the initiative.
“Though medicines will be given for free over the lifetime of the beneficiary, the patients cannot approach us directly. They have to come through doctors in their areas and the patients have to produce the doctor’s prescription, every month.
This is because dosage of medicines for hypertension, cardiac conditions and diabetes may change often. We will also check with the doctor to find out if the patient is really underprivileged. Those who can afford these medicines will not be considered for this initiative,” says Dr. D. Suresh, chairman, Aathma Foundation, who also runs Amma Hospital.
The Foundation not only provides free medicines for the needy. It also provides them with home-nursing and home physiotherapy services. Half of the cost towards these services will be borne by the Foundation.
Through an initiative called ‘Amma Saranalayam,’ the Foundation is providing monthly packages for those who are bedridden, senior citizens and terminally-ill patients. “By this initiative, all the requirements of the patients, including food, accommodation and medicinal care are being taken care of.
The medical services are provided round-the-clock, under the guidance of doctors and paramedical staff. If necessary, physiotherapy, ICU care, super-specialty consultations and pain management will be provided too as part of a reasonable package,” says Suresh.
For more details, contact Pushpa at 9791151719 or Manikandan at 8939484501.