Dhamini Ratnam, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 10, 2010
Last Updated: 01:25 IST(10/5/2010)
Senior citizens have a reason to smile.
Prominent city NGOs and welfare services have come together to launch
a 24-hour helpline, 1298, which starting Monday will help elderly
persons tackle their legal, medical and financial problems.
The helpline, which already provides assistance to women and ambulance
services, will now extend their services to elderly citizens as well.
Two counsellors will also be available round the clock on the helpline.
The Mumbai Police Elder helpline and Ambulance Access for All
Foundation have teamed up with 10 NGOs working for senior citizens,
including Silver Innings Foundation and HelpAge India to provide a
referral and a counselling service to the 1.5 million senior citizen
in the city.
"Often, senior citizens don't know whom to approach when they have a
problem. Now, by dialing 1298 from either their landline number or
their cellphone, they can avail of a directory of NGOs who can help
them on a variety of issues," said Shailesh Mishra, founder and
president of Silver Innings Foundation.
For instance, if they want to know more about Alzheimer's disease, the
helpline will refer them to the correct NGO. Or if it is a case of
physical or mental abuse, they can speak to a counsellor. If they
wish, they can be directly transferred to the police elder helpline
too, Mishra said.
"Our vision is to get all the NGOs working with senior citizens under
one roof. They need to know that they are not alone and shouldn't
hesitate to ask for help, even if it's just advice they're seeking,"
said Member of Parliament, Priya Dutt, a trustee of the Nargis Dutt
Memorial Charitable Trust, which is funding the helpline.
"We are also creating a directory of resources, so that the elderly
don't have to be dependent on anyone," said Mishra.
Information on yoga centres, dabba services, and mobility aids will be
made available within the next three months. At present the helpline
will provide information on day-care centres, legal and financial
matters and the Right to Information Act.
"The needs of the elderly are different from those of other ages, so a
helpline is urgently needed," said Nasreen Rustomfram, dean, student
affairs, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who teaches a course on
The helpline 1298 already provides assistance to women and ambulance services.