Seventy-six-year-old retired Army officer Major Ramachandran had served the country for several years and had led a very active life throughout his tenure in the forces. In his post-retirement years, he lives in Delhi with his wife as his four children are all settled abroad. For a person who has always been an active worker, staying at home has become a silent killer.
“Nobody seems to care that I live alone in my 70s. My two adult children and four adult grandchildren are busy living their lives abroad. It’s hard to put into words the feelings of loneliness that overcome me. But now things have changed for good as I came across Hasgulla Club which is exclusively made for old people like me. I came across more people who were like me. The club has lot of activities which keeps us busy all the time.”
Hasgulla club is an initiative by the office of District magistrate New Delhi District to provide holistic support to senior citizen and spread positivity, happiness and ease of living among senior citizen.
Elderlies in Delhi can now avail the services of psychologists, doctors, legal experts and administrative support at their doorstep during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the administration setting up a dedicated centre for the purpose.
“So far, more than 60,000 senior citizens living in the New Delhi district have well benefitted” said nodal officer Dr Nitin Shakya
Under the initiative, there is also a plan to set up around 500 ‘Hasgulla clubs’ in coordination with residents’ welfare associations and other organisations in the New Delhi district.
At these clubs, senior citizens will get all basic facilities to be provided by the administration.
“Hasgulla’ clubs are spreading all over Delhi now and other States too want to replicate this. Several WhatsApp groups have been created in coordination with RWAs to reach out to more senior citizens,” said Dr Shakya.
For senior citizens a Helpline 1800111323 also has been created by the Hasgulla Club to come to the rescue of the any elderlies who have been abandoned or harassed.
The club has medical assistance, psychological counselling, technology training and games like chess and carrom that can be facilitated for senior citizens. Club will come up in Naraina area.
With the pandemic affecting the mental health adversely, this move will allow many of them to get their treatment done easily. As most senior citizens stay inside their houses due to the regulations imposed in the pandemic and they’ve started to face psychological issues too.
Thus, motivational speeches and counselling have been provided and have been uploaded on their Whatsapp groups. Manoratna community volunteers to act as local assistants for senior citizens to take care of their agility-related issues, Yoga and laughter sessions are conducted regularly with the help Ayush Ministry.
A Healthcare support team has been provided for medical screening, covid testing and other assistance with help of Swasthyadoots (Community health volunteers) and Psychological counsellors are available round the clock to overcome loneliness issues.
In order to provide employment a Reskilling cell has been created too. Hasgulla Van does the rounds all over Delhi to reach out to senior citizens anytime of the day.
(The writer is the founder of Powerful Teachers, an organisation that works for the elderlies)