Senior Citizens – Old is Gold!
By Maxwell Pereira
Safety and security of the elderly, especially those living alone are a concern. Not only to themselves, to their families and to the community in general too. Due to various reasons older persons are at times constrained to live away from their families and loved ones, which makes them particularly vulnerable to safety and security hazards. The year 2001 saw 18 senior citizens in Delhi become victims of murder. In 2002, there were 15 such. This is unfortunate.
Due to their physical weakness and lonely status, senior citizens are easy targets for criminals – especially in urban surroundings. They are more likely to be exploited by the unscrupulous. At times they are the butt of anti social behaviour – verbal abuse, vandalism, unprovoked assault, abusive behaviour intended to cause fear or distress. They could be victims also of threats from their own relatives, domestic help or servants, landlords, tenants, strangers, thieves or intruders. They are often exposed to accidents or mishaps even within the house.
Living alone can increase feelings of vulnerability and anxiety about personal security and of the home environs. Consequently, it is necessary for the family and the community – as also the old folks themselves, to be aware and to worry about these issues; to know the solutions, and take possible precautions that would ensure security.
The Delhi Police since long devised its Senior Citizens Scheme, considering it to be a moral duty. It believes safety and welfare of the aged can be ensured by innovative and sympathetic approach. The scheme envisages measures to ensure safety for those above 65 – couples or singles staying alone. Those staying within the family group or with relatives are not covered. Through this scheme it is endeavoured to pay back a debt by extending due assistance to needy seniors who in their time have contributed much to society, each in his/ her own way.
In the envisaged scheme, the police have taken steps to identify vulnerable senior citizens in each of their localities. Special care is ensured by frequent visits to them not only by the Beat Constable or the Division Officer, but also by the officers at senior levels including the SHO, the Assistant Commissioner or even the Deputy Commissioner of the area. This special protection scheme launched in 1990 envisages a regular survey of the elderly living alone and providing them special assistance in various matters, a sense of security with a feeling of being wanted, apart from guidance regarding their safety and security.
Non governmental organizations (NGOs) especially working in the field of the old and the vulnerable are associated and provided with information on these needy and vulnerable elderly. Safety features for the house like protective grills, fences, door chains, magic eye, alarm bell, door phone etc. are prompted and advised. They are provided with important telephone numbers including those of senior police officers and the police station and assisted in keeping them handy for a contingency.
They are advised against keeping valuables in the house or sharing knowledge about such with or before servants and attendants. Police verification of servants, chowkidars, attendants and drivers, as also such other ‘help’ that visits the house like telephone linesmen, electrician, plumber, gas agency or even the local subzi-wallah and the postman, is ensured. Such verified personnel and chowkidars are especially motivated to keep an eye over the safety aspects of the senior citizens in their Beat.
The local police, apart from regular visits to the senior citizens, maintain a register with relevant information on each of them, as also regarding the frequency of visits – not forgetting the vital contact telephone numbers of close relatives or friends for emergency or any contingency. A system of local responsibility is sought to be introduced under which neighbours are requested to be concerned about the senior citizens in their midst. Importance of courtesy, patience and care is sought to be a hallmark of police dealings with senior citizens.
The police have also brought out literature and taken out advertisements of DO’s and DON’Ts that could be of assistance to senior citizens. The boxes displayed here indicate the common DO’s and DON’Ts advised.
|Ensure effective safety features/ barring mechanisms on doors & windows.||Don’t leave your valuables around the house.|
|Put a magic eye on the main door.||Don’t make any ostentatious display of your cash or jewellery.|
|Try to keep a dog as a pet.||Don’t trust strangers – and don’t open your door to unidentified people.|
|When stepping out for a walk, go out in a group.||Don’t be a recluse. Socialise with your neighbours.|
|Connect your neighbours house to your own home with an emergency alarm bell.||Don’t ignore any suspicious incident. Inform the police.|
|Keep vital telephone numbers handy for emergency.||Don’t let your servant have access to your almirahs, safes or other such.|
|Inform your police station, neighbour or the nearest PCR-van if you are suspicious of some one.||Don’t talk about family secrets or property, in front of strangers/ servants.|
|Insist on getting your servant and other domestic help verified at the local police station.||Don’t forget to call up your local officers if the beat constable the Division Officer has not visited you during the week.|
|Copy Right: ©Maxwell Pereira, 60 Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001; 23718822,
(The author can be reached at http://planetindia.net/maxwell or his email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
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