A sense of security for senior citizens

A sense of security for senior citizens

It takes a lot more than the effort of a single individual to make senior citizens feel included in the modern-day society. It is therefore heartening to see initiatives independently being taken up by parks, possibly the most happening haunts for the elderly.

Seeing it as a duty, Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association started issuing identity cards to walkers earlier this year. Recalling the reason for doing this, advocate and president of Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association S Umesh says, “Two years ago, a senior citizen expired in the park because of a heart attack and there was no one to look after him. That incident scared us but nothing was done about it. Soon after that, I came across a retired IAS officer who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had lost his way. He was over 90 and when I asked him where his house and family was, he answered ‘Cubbon Park’. I took him personally to Ulsoor Police Station and after a few hours, his family was notified about his location because they had filed a missing person’s complaint. Issuing identity cards was the best solution to prevent similar incidents.”

Identity cards are issued every Sunday from 6.30 am to 8 am behind the Central Library. They include the senior citizen’s photograph and the name, address, contact number, blood group and specifies any disease that they have. Umesh informs that 2,000 cards have been issued since May.

“We see regulars wearing it around their neck and coming to the park with smiling faces. There is a non-compulsory nominal fee of Rs 100 for printing the card that the walker can pay and that money, along with my own personal funds, goes into hosting functions for these very citizens in the park,” he adds.

For those who have already had their ID cards issued, such initiatives act as a safety net. “At our age, a piece of paper and reassuring words are enough to give us a sense of security. The fees charged is not much because we know that it is being provided to help us,” says Vijendra U, who regularly visits the park.

C Manjunath, who also got a card issued, agrees that this is a much needed initiative started by the park. “After getting my ID card, I’ve noticed that the relationship between us walkers and the park has developed. It can also be used as a valid ID card in other places, making it convenient to have on you,” he says.

Even before Cubbon Park, Lalbagh Walkers’ Association had started issuing ID cards. But the growing numbers and money involved hampered this process. “Five years ago, we had issued around 500 ID cards to regulars and senior citizens. Lots of old people would and still come to the park and if something happens, there should be an identity and point of contact. But the strength is much more now and it will be an expensive investment. We want to issue ID cards but still need to discuss this plan with the director,” informs professor Sadashiv P, president, Lalbagh Walkers’ Association.

On questioning the horticultural department about why the ID card model has not been replicated across different parks, their only reply was that they would like to but that it would be a costly investment at this point. Without bureaucracy creeping in, this initiative and others like free health check-ups could definitely make Bangalore a much better place for the elderly.

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