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Senior citizen woes in times of lockdown (IANS Special)

Lucknow, April 15 (IANS) A large number of senior citizens and elderly persons in Uttar Pradesh are facing an extremely awkward problem amid the lockdown of that has now extended to 19 days after the initial 21. Most of them have the money but no food and they are too self-respecting to ask for a meal.

A septuagenarian couple, residing in a high-rise apartment in Gomti Nagar locality in Lucknow, has been surviving on bread and fruits since the past six days

The couple’s domestic help has not been coming to work since the lockdown started and the couple are now unable to manage on their own.

“For about 10 days or so, we managed with the cooking and cleaning but now my wife’s arthritis has worsened and she is confined to her wheel-chair. I do not know how to cook. I cannot ask anyone for food and the neighbours in the building are not very social,” the husband, a retired government officer, said.

He said he found it rather demeaning to seek food from various helplines.

“I am financially stable and cannot beg for food. If the government allows home delivery of food, we will be happy to get, at least, one full meal every day,” he said.

Another senior citizen, a retired government employee with a mentally challenged wife, said that since the past three days he has been surviving on sandwiches and Maggi.

“I know it is not good for my health and neither my wife’s health but with all maids away, I have to spend all the time in tending to my wife. There is a restaurant a few yards form my house but it is closed so there is no option for me,” he said on phone to IANS.

Senior citizens living in old age homes face another kind of ‘problem’ — that of self-dignity.

“In the lockdown, we are able to provide a very basic meal of dal and rice to the people in the home because the workers are not coming to work. Besides, we have to take care of their medicines too,” said the manager of an old home in the state capital.

According to him, an NGO had recently brought food packets for the senior citizens in the home but when they started taking photographs of the distribution, the inmates got enraged and refused to accept the food packets.

Similarly, inmates of an old age home run by Christian missionaries in Prayagraj, has also shut its doors on individuals and organizations taking selfies during food distribution.

One such inmate, Alok Fernandez said, “We are senior citizens living here due to circumstances. We are not destitutes or poster boys of a calamity. We do not want to be identified on social media and cause embarrassment to our friends and family.”

Quoting from a poem he said, “Khuddar mere shaher mein faake (hunger) se mar gaye. Ration to mil raha tha par wo photo se day gaye/ khaana de rahe the log selfie ke saath saath/ marna tha jinko bhookh se, wo gairat se mar gaye.”

His two sons are settled abroad and after the death of his wife two years ago, Alok Fernandez shifted to the old age home.

‘Prem Niwas’, a home for destitute run by the Sisters of Charity in Lucknow, has completely shut its doors on visitors and donors.

The gatekeeper said that this has been done to avoid all possibility of the coronavirus infection coming into the home since most of the inmates have low immunity levels.

The inmates of these homes, however, are said to be feeling increasingly lonely since the lockdown began because visitors have completely stopped coming.

“There are a group of people, including children who visit the home regularly and spend time with the inmates. Now that they have stopped coming, the senior citizens miss them,” said the manager.

Taking care of these senior citizens features as one of the seven Mantras of Modi, announced on Tuesday.

–IANS

amita/in

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