Dignity Foundation in General News

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Kolkata-based Dignity Foundation emerges as savior for aged and infirmed Published

Kolkata, May 8 (ANI): In the dusk of their life, an alarming number of India's ninety one million sixty-plus population is suffering from loneliness, neglect, depression, physical and mental abuse and a plethora of diseases without proper medical care. Often enough, the senior citizens' help lines are the only support the old people have in teeming metropolises like Kolkata. The Dignity Foundation, which runs a help line for seniors in cities like Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai, has 15000 registered members in Kolkata alone.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Mr Abhijit Ghosh. There are over five lakh elderly persons in the city and most of them are living alone. The children often move abroad or to other cities in search of work. Many of the elderly have lost their spouses. Their friends and relatives circles also narrow down as disease and death take their toll, says Ghosh. There has been a spurt in suicides by the elderly as increased loneliness, depression, disease and lack of care induces a sense of helplessness amongst them. Help lines have emerged as life saviours in such a scenario as they provide much- needed comfort to the old along with an opportunity to mix with others of their own age, psychological and financial counseling, safety and security and support for getting access to medical care. According to Parvin Sherif, a senior citizen living in South Kolkata the regular 'chai adda' sessions at Dignity Foundation gives the old people an opportunity to share of cup of tea and snacks with others of their own age group, exchange gossip, sing songs, play games and share problems. The whole experience is cathartic and prevents us from slipping into depression caused often by loneliness, she adds.

At present Dignity Foundation holds 'adda' sessions for the aged at three centres in Kolkata but hopes to extend this venture to every area and locality gradually. Another 60-plus, Rekha Shah points out that when faced with neglect at home, the elderly often withdraw into a shell and suffer in silence. The best thing to do is to smile even in the face of apathy from near and dear ones and join a support group through the help lines to find like-minded friends of one's own age. By becoming part of a group outside the house, the elderly often find an healthy outlet for their suppressed emotions and desires, she says. Emotional and physical abuse of the elderly have been a matter of growing concern for the NGOs working in this sector. Pronam, an NGO which provides safety and security to the senior citizens in collaboration with Kolkata Police, has 1453 registered members of whom 681 stay alone. Pronam gives its members access to medical care and has ties with 31 hospitals for providing health care to senior citizens. The NGO also has contacts with 48 police stations to reach immediate security to the needy elderly on the other end of the phone, often seeking protection from their own flesh and blood, according to Shukla Tarafdar, Administrator, Pronam. Property disputes and financial concerns are the main causes of abuse of the elderly, with the youth often perceiving them as a burden. The help lines promise the senior citizens seeking help absolute confidentiality and carry out social intervention to solve the problem, according to Mr Ghosh.

There is need to create awareness amongst the suffering elderly population that help lines and support groups exist for their benefit and they should be counselled to seek help when required, according to Shukla Tarafdar. For the aged, its problems like lack of company, help to visit the doctor, library or the nearby grocery store, that becomes insurmountable. Besides intervention by NGOs, a community-level commitment to help the elderly couple or single old man or lady living in the locality is necessary to make them feel part of society and cared for. The Help Line Numbers in Kolkata are : Dignity Foundation (033-30690999) and Pronam (033-24190740) By Ajitha Menon (ANI)

Read more here : http://news.oneindia.in/2010/05/08/kolkatabased-dignity-foundation-emerges-as-savior-for-aged.html


Senior citizens have a shot at second innings of career
Sakal Times

Published on Sakal Times (http://www.sakaaltimes.com)

 VASUMITA S ADARSH    Tuesday, 25 October 2011 - 12:36 PM IST

PUNE : More than 50 senior citizens in Pune have found second careers through the retirement expo conducted by Dignity Foundation in the city recently.

The Foundation, which has been working in the area of second careers for retired people for the past two years, informed that through the expo, the organisation had received over 500 resumes of senior citizens showing interest in second careers.

“This expo has helped launch this platform in a more serious manner, and the response has been immense, with 500 applications e-mailed to us and spot registrations,” said Foundation's general manager Lakshmi Ramamurthy, who added that around 100 applications have been screened, and candidates have been counselled.

“We have managed to place five candidates with insurance companies, who have come up with interesting profiles such as recruitment managers, or financial planners. Besides, a few local industries have recognised the potential of such candidates and have come forward to recruit them. We will be placing around 15 candidates with them, once we match their profiles and positions,” she said, and informed that approximately 15 candidates had also been picked on spot at the expo, where six insurance companies had put up stalls.

Companies such as Max New York, employed 35 senior citizens for varied posts. “The profiles included agent advisors, financial consultants, and the candidates have been placed in various parts of the city such as Sahkarnagar, Kothrud, Aundh and Market Yard,” said agency development manager of Max New York Life Insurance, Namdev Bhelonde.

NGO to hold special expo for senior citizens
Sakal Times

Published on Sakal Times (http://www.sakaaltimes.com)

 Reporter    Wednesday, 21 September 2011 - 11:38 AM IST

PUNE : A first-of-its kind Retirement India Expo 2011 is being brought to Pune, especially for the elderly, by Dignity Foundation in association with Athashri, the housing company for senior citizens. This was announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

The expo, at the Ganesh Kala Krida Rangmanch from September 23 to 25, will have products and services customised to make lives of senior citizens comfortable and better occupied.

The expo will have participation of 20 businesses in the area of life after retirement. It is being held in five cities till October 24, and already been held in Chennai and Bengaluru, has had a huge response with over 20,000 senior citizens participating in both the cities.

“In Pune too, we are expecting around 8,000 senior citizens to participate in the expo. There will mainly be representation from the insurance sector, the housing sector working for comfortable homes for senior citizens and health sector besides banks and businesses, which specialise in making products for the elderly such as motorised wheelchairs and commodes,” said Dignity's general manager Lakshmi Ramamurthy, who added that companies would be looking to recruit senior citizens at the expo.

On September 25 'World Elders Day' will be celebrated at 4 pm at the expo.


Dignity’s general manager Lakshmi Ramamurthy said that companies would be looking to recruit senior citizens at the exhibition at Ganesh Kala Krida Rangmanch.

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My antennae is always picking up people’s daily problems
Sakal Times

Published on Sakal Times (http://www.sakaaltimes.com)

 TANIA ROY    Friday, 1 October 2010 - 09:11 PM IST

Tania Roy chats up Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president, Dignity Foundation

Looking at how senior citizens in the West are looked after by the state and society, we have a long road to traverse,” says Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president, Dignity Foundation and Dignity Lifestyle Retirement Township. But Dignity has begun in right earnest and can only go forward in giving more and more to seniors who subscribe to the scheme. On the occasion of World Elders’ Day, Dr Sreenivasan shares with us some of her experiences and Dignity’s expansion plans.

What is the strength of membership that you are targetting?

So far, 60,000 members are part of Dignity Foundation and we are targetting 1 lakh in a year’s time.

Could you please tell us about your expansion plans?

In June 2009, a die was cast in favour of instituting a paradigm shift — a shift from being the traditional, donation driven, charitable model of an Indian NGO towards a self-sustaining social entrepreneurship model of earning our own revenues. Five years ago, what Ashoka, the global Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship changemakers had identified in Dignity Foundation and promoted it when it was a bud, that seed of innovation now has taken firmer roots with help from AARP Global Network towards adopting globally successful best practices in ageing solutions.

Dignity Donor Privilege Programme, now called the ‘Dignity Advantage’ scheme, offers a lot of new benefits like discounted cost of medicines, laboratory tests, treatment, health insurance, reverse mortgage, special aids and accessories, tours and travel all for an annual (individual) membership fee of Rs 700.

What made you set up Dignity? Did you always intend to do something for the aged?

As a social worker, my antennae is always up for picking up problems people are facing in life. The ‘senior’ segment and its issues of daily living was topmost among people I saw in daily life. So I decided to bring about change.

What has been your learning experience through your 15-year journey with Dignity?

The biggest jolt to our existence came in December 2009 when Dignity Helpline got implicated in allegations of fraud and cheating. To the very people whom we offer assistance — the old and the lonely — we were accused of causing harm and misappropriation in a mischievously instigated court case. Key staff underwent humiliation and ill treatment by the police. As of August 2010, the High Court has quashed every trace of such falsified accusation.

The attack on Dignity Helpline was turned into an opportunity to create a secure environment for all Helplines in Mumbai and we also mobilised them for exchanging views about how insecure we were becoming vis-a-vis police atrocity.

Do you recall any setbacks when you set up the foundation (especially funds)?

Funds are our perptual source of worry and tension. We realised that when we were operating on a tiny budget we were much happier and in control of our own destiny — a situation no longer true when larger infusion of outside funds started happening. Money is a hard earned experience, they say. We learnt many lessons that it is not so easy to stretch your hands and accept money. Money always comes with strings attached. Under circumstances one has to keep one’s head and heart pure in order not to succumb to pressures when money flows in.

How do you spread awareness about productive ageing?

We have our magazine — Dignity Dialogue — in English, to which we have now added the Hindi edition. I would like to publish this magazine in every language of India so the old can easily benefit from its texts. But we are not flush with funds.

What measures do you suggest to curb elder abuse?

The elder alone can curb it. Refusal to bow down to wishes of children and spouse, and taking care of one’s own financial requirement in old age. It is not at all necessary to spend off all one has on children. It simply does not pay back.
But one can inculcate in children a sense of ‘duty to elders’ through an event we call Suraksha Bandhan — where every child takes a band from school distributed by Dignity, and ties it to his or her grandparent. The band has these words: “I protect your security with dignity”.

Taking the tired out of retired
Sakal Times

Published on Sakal Times (http://www.sakaaltimes.com)

 Reporter    Monday, 26 April 2010 - 10:50 AM IST

Dealing with the feeling of emptiness that clouds their mind is one of the major challenges before retirees. Dignity Second Careers, an initiative of Dignity Foundation tries to find out a solution.

Mumbai-based Dignity Foundation has set up this specialised service to facilitate retirees to go back into engagement. Any senior citizen just has to log onto www.dignitysecondcareers.org and fill out simple details like job preference, computer literacy, full- time or part-time work preference and minimum salary expectation. The service, then guides the retiree to the job he/she is most suitable for.

If the job demands it, computer training is also provided by the Foundation to the candidates. 'Job aspirants' have to fill up an employee placement form of Rs 1,000 as service charge which is refunded after 6 months. The candidate is expected to work once placed in a particular organisation for at least one year. "Around 200 retirees have been given job placements till now from our centres like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune." said Jackson Abnis, Pune Coordinator for Dignity Foundation.

Dignity Foundation has got offices in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru. The foundation also organises workshops and training sessions for retirees from time to time. An online magazine, Dignity Dialogue is also published.

In Pune, Dignity Foundation is organising a skill development workshop today in association with Senior Executive Forum of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), today. The workshop on 'how to gear up for a second career?' will be held at MCCIA's Tilak Road office from 11 am to 1 pm.


In Pune, Dignity Foundation is organising a skill development workshop today in association with Senior Executive Forum of the MCCIA today

Dignity Foundation shuts office

The Telegraph, Calcutta

 OUR CORRESPONDENT    Jamshedpur, May 17, 2010

Dignity Foundation, which works for the welfare of senior citizens, has shut its city office.

The Mumbai-based foundation set up its Jamshedpur office in 2003. The steel city chapter had 148 volunteers.

“We closed the Jamshedpur chapter as the headquarters found some anomalies in the functioning of the local team six months ago. After proper verifications we decided to wrap up our operations in the steel city,” said Shilu Sreenivasan, president of Dignity Foundation, over phone from Mumbai. She refused to elaborate.

Dignity Foundation is a popular NGO for senior citizens, which promises avenues for productive living and a dignified existence to the over 50 group. Headquartered in Mumbai, the foundation has chapters in Calcutta, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Jamshedpur and Vishakhapatnam.

Dignity Foundation started a number of services such as health check-ups, legal help, counselling, and computer education at a subsidised rate, which helped the senior citizens in the city. The chapter had also planned a state-of-the-art old age home in Sonari. Members have now requested the authorities to take back the land to prevent encroachments.

ActivAge launches www.dignitysecondcareers.org

The Telegraph, Calcutta

 Jan 08, 2008, 06.12 PM IST

ActivAge launches www.dignitysecondcareers.org. Website opens up post-retirement career opportunities for senior citizens Tags ActivAge, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Dignity Foundation, career counseling , placement services , senior citizens, Bhargav Dasgupta, Sheilu Sreenivasan Source: Moneycontrol.com SHARE . EMAIL . PRINT . A+ ActivAge , a joint initiative between ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and Dignity Foundation , an established organization dedicated to the cause of productive ageing, has launched the first-of-its-kind website www.dignitysecondcareers.org dedicated to second career counseling and placement services for senior citizens.

The website has been launched keeping in mind the concept of productive ageing, which encourages retirees and individuals in the fifty-plus segment to lead a more holistic and active post-retirement life. www.dignitysecondcareers.com will provide retirees a platform to explore opportunities that will enable them to continue to utilize their expertise and skills. Second career options are available for both part-time and full time jobs in the corporate sector as well as in the NGO segment. Speaking on the launch, Mr. Bhargav Dasgupta, Executive Director, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance said, " ICICI Prudential Life and Dignity Foundation under the aegis of

ActivAge will offer this unique opportunity for the senior citizens to pursue careers post their retirement. Many retirees seek either part-time or full time opportunities in the corporate sector, as they are still active and can contribute to the various functions within a company. The second careers website is the first step towards providing avenues in this direction, to senior citizens. Through this initiative we hope to benefit both the corporates and senior citizens, to match their respective needs" "There are many energetic retirees who are fit and still eager to continue to work. In our experience we have seen that there is a sizeable population of senior citizens who wish to put their expertise to good use and want to work again. We recognized this need and set up this website to facilitate retirees to go back into engagement," said Dr. Sheilu Sreenivasan, Founder-President, Dignity Foundation.

www.dignitysecondcareers.org has been designed to be a virtual platform which can be accessed by retirees and employers for preliminary skills-job fit assessment. Retirees all over the country as well as companies and social organisations can access the website to mutual advantage. Senior citizens can upload their resumes on www.dignitysecondcareers.org for which ICICI Prudential Life Insurance is providing the web interface. These resumes can be accessed by both ICICI Prudential Life and other prospective employers who will offer the unique opportunity for senior citizens to explore second career options. Sourced From: Adfactors Public Relations Pvt Ltd.

Read more at : http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/activage-launches-wwwdignitysecondcareersorg_320369.html?utm_source=ref_article
No dearth of takers for second career amid senior citizens

 Nov 03, 2007, 01.10 PM IST

The next time you go to a BPO, you may see your grandmom hobnobbing with the young up-market crowd. An NGO in Mumbai is finding new employment opportunities for retired senior citizens and is finding no dearth of takers.

The next time you go to a BPO, you may see your grandmom hobnobbing with the young up-market crowd. An NGO in Mumbai is finding new employment opportunities for retired senior citizens and is finding no dearth of takers. Its a special day for the Godya family. Radhika is giving her husband a warm send off, as are his children on the beginning of his second career. 57-year-old Murlidhar Godya, is thrilled to begin a new career at a juncture in life when others simply prepare themselves to lie back and rest. Murlidhar Godya said, It's better to wear out than to rust out. I had to do something." Murli is heading towards his training center where he will learn more about e-mail customer services. He is only one of the many senior citizens who are now opting for a life of productive work even if it's a kind that they are not used to. Preparing them for the challenge is the Dignity Foundation's second careers program. Sheilu Srinivasan , President, Dignity Foundation said, It's the feeling of wanting to be useful. I don't want to exist on the fringes of society, I want to be part of the mainstream." He is an administrative manager in a growing IT concern, he works 8 hours a day and six days a week. He is also 68 years old. Benson Hayeems has retired from work 8 years ago, but it was only a couple of months earlier that he decided to put his experience and skills to use once again. And it didn't take him long to find an employer. Harjit Singh , Manager Operations, Foub Interactive said, Experience always works and of course faithfulness and loyalty." Benson now enjoys a busy and fruitful schedule and the steady flow of visitors to the Dignity Foundation shows that the senior citizen of Mumbai is eager to find new avenues and experiences.

Read more at : http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/features/no-dearthtakers-for-second-career-amid-senior-citizens_311540.html?utm_source=ref_article
Is sixty the new forty?

 Jun 09, 2007, 03.55 PM IST

Stereotypes are breaking. 12 million people have crossed the 60-year mark in urban India. And they are looking to get a life. There is an opportunity here for sectors beyond finance and healthcare who could look at a share of the senior citizen's wallet reports CNBC-TV18.

Stereotypes are breaking. 12 million people have crossed the 60-year mark in urban India . And they are looking to get a life. There is an opportunity here for sectors beyond finance and healthcare who could look at a share of the senior citizen' s wallet reports CNBC-TV18. If movies are an indicator of what's cooking, sixty could be the new forty. From the patriarch Dilip Kumar in Saudaagar to romantic lead Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum , today's senior citizen at least in our popular culture is a protagonist with dreams, aspirations and problems that come with a zest for life. And where films go, ads follow. So you have a spate of ads featuring senior citizens living it up. Sheilu Sreenivasan , President, Dignity Foundation said, It's the mindset, I dont want to leave everything to my children, because my children are settled in jobs, they have the money. So the struggle is not like before. Also, they have the Western influence to learn to live on their own money. According to Technopak's India consumer trends' study of 2006-07, 60 to 70 year old retirees arent debt free yet. According to the study, they spend almost twice the all-India average on servicing loans . Perhaps, shopping for the children's weddings, they spend 15% more on durables and communications than the average, and 36% more on furniture. With time to kill, our senior lot spends a whopping 42% more on vacations than the average. Experts say marketers need to develop or modify products, catering to this segment. Indian companies are betting big on the spend-happy young population, while marketers in the US are already gearing up for its graying baby boomers . In fact, an estimate suggests America's 45million strong will double in number in the next 40 years. Back home, it might be wise for marketers to develop or modify products for the senior lot.

Read more at : http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/is-sixtynew-forty_285822.html?utm_source=ref_article
Protest on economic hardships of senior citizens

 Aug 16, 2006, 10.48 AM IST

Over the past six months, senior citizens have been expressing their deep anguish over new impositions by the finance ministry. A protest programme on economic hardships of senior citizens was organized by Dignity foundation.

Nothing happens until we make it to happen, this was the phrase believed by all the senior citizens who were present at the Protest Programme on Economic Hardships and Government of India organized by Dignity Foundation. The meeting was arranged on August 14, at World trade Centre, Centrum, where a population of more than 100-150 senior citizens gathered together to express their deep anguish over new impositions from the finance ministry, Government of India. Over the past six months, hundreds of letters and articles documenting this misery were pouring in at the office of Dignity foundation. This included the TDS (Tax Deducted at Source) on the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme of 2004, introduced now with retrospective effect, while originally the income was not taxed at all. Various other issues such as withdrawing tax concessions to PPF (Public Provident Fund), denial of mediclaim for people over 55 years, no social security were taken up. Therefore, a protest was organized to come out to resolve issues that irk senior citizens. Eminent experts like Ameet Patel, Sandeep Shanbag, A N Shanbag, Sucheta Dala and Dr. Kirit Somaiya came up with important points at the meeting. Ameet Patel brought quite a many valid points in the conference where in he mentioned about various tax laws, which, in his opinion, did not make any sense like Fringe Benefit Tax, Banking Cash Transaction Tax and the faulty implementation of the tax. It is not corruption but extortion. Government does not care about any one. They first spend crores of money, collect taxes and then decide the budget although they should decide the budget first and then spend money, avers Ameet Patel. We blame the system but we forget that we evolve the system. We must try and make changes in the system, said Dr Kirit Somaiya, BJP leader. He further advised the senior citizens to come up with an action plan and prmosied to support them. A dozen of senior citizens voiced their loud protest. Expert A N Shanbag expressed his anguish by saying that we are senior citizens, we are not beggars. He made a valid point by mentioning that the government must first define who is a senior citizen. Knowledge and experience remains knowledge and experience when used and otherwise it is useless. We would use this and come out with a result. A journey to thousand miles begins with a small step towards a right direction and the small step has already been taken. All senior citizens have collectively decided to come up with a right solution to the issues that irk them.

Read more at : http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/tax-report/protesteconomic-hardshipssenior-citizens_234504.html?utm_source=ref_article
Awards for Dignity Foundation volunteers

 Staff Reporter    Tamil Nadu - Chennai

CHENNAI : Awards were distributed to 15 volunteers of Dignity Foundation's Chennai Chapter for their "excellence" in helpline management, office management, companionship programmes and basic computerisation.

The former Director-General of Police, A.X. Alexander, distributed the awards to K. Rajashankar, V. Muthukrishna, V. Nora, Lakshmi Natrajan, Bessy Cherian, Lakshmi Anand, V. Ramamurthy, James Chandran, Janaki Krishnan, Leila Nelto, A.R.Serao, Sathi Thomas, V. Balambal, Krishnan Menon and Vishnu Balchand, at a function organised by the Dignity Foundation to celebrate the World Elders Day.

Mr. Alexander said the break-up of the joint family system and migration of youth to foreign countries were forcing elders to fend for themselves.

Dignity Retirement India Expo 2013

 India Infoline News Service    16:20 , Sep 02, 2013

An exhibition of products and services from disparate sectors like Banking, Real Estate, Healthcare and Travel and Tourism

Dignity Foundation, a leading NGO working for the welfare of senior citizens for over 18 years, will be organizing Dignity Retirement India Expo 2013. It provides an enriching and unique set of opportunities to the 50 plus to lead a dignified, fun filling and fulfilling life during their twilight years. The exhibition will showcase essential products and services that are much needed by the senior citizens. The expo and event is scheduled for, 6th & 7th September, 2013 at Nehru Centre.

Dignity Foundation is the first NGO who had taken this initiative for senior citizens benefit. The two day exhibition and the event will include display of various kinds of products and services pertaining to retirement. Corporate stalls will be held displaying financial such as health insurance, saving schemes like fixed deposits and mutual funds, good homes for independent living as well as medical / health products for Physical assistance –Spectacles, hearing aids, Walking sticks, exercise equipments, water beds and more will be on the display.

Apart from corporate stalls, Fun Zone for senior citizens will be organized where in various activities - graphology, astrology, Tarot reading, handicraft, group singing, dancing, tai chi, etc will be a part of the expo. There are special workshops that are held for senior citizens where demo of new products and services along with learning sessions on holistic health, fitness, travel, writing and publishing will be provided

Dignity Foundation will be celebrating World Elders Day jointly with Dignity Annual Day during the two day event. The Dignity Annual Day event shall commence with cultural performances by Dignitarians 5pm onwards followed by the formal Annual Day function and honors.

Dr. Sheilu Sreenivasan, Founder & President of Dignity Foundation says “The retirement Expo was the first platform created for showcasing products and services for senior citizens by Dignity Foundation in 2011 and we are proud to successfully organize it once more specially during the Worlds Elders Day in order to provide a systematic way of life to the senior citizens.”

“I believe being independent life in this age is one of the major challenges confronting the senior citizens. This Retirement Expo and Event shall provide a platform for all the necessary requirement, be it financial or health to make their life healthier and independent.” adds Sonali Sinha,Chief Operating, Officer, Dignity Foundation.

Dignity Foundation dedicated a day called “Companionship Carnival” for senior citizens

Dignity Foundation, a leading NGO that serves senior citizens, hosted a daylong event titled CAMPANIONSHIP CARNIVAL to promote social networking amongst senior citizens.

Online PR News – 03-June-2013 –Mumbai, 3rd June 2013: Dignity Foundation, a leading NGO that serves senior citizens, hosted a daylong event titled CAMPANIONSHIP CARNIVAL to promote social networking amongst senior citizens. The event was conducted to help senior citizens to find friends and partners for life-long companionship. The event took place on Saturday, June 1st, 2013, at Tejpall Hall , Grant Road. The event started with nostalgic interactive games such as Lagori, Sakhali, KhoKho, Gilli Danda which transported them to their childhood era and help them open up and relax. Some senior citizens also sang songs which made a refreshing start.

The event was followed by a lively debate on the topic “Live-In partnership as the upcoming trend amongst senior citizens”. The provocative topic was debated by celebrity anchors like Renuka Shahane, Siddharth Kak and Dolly Thakore. Visitors to the event also got a chance to express their views and ask questions on the same.

Tanuja Mukherjee famous Indian film actress stated, “In my family our grandparents successfully instilled in all of us care and respect for elders. Four years ago when I met Dignity Foundation who were practically implementing these ideals, I gave my consent to be their Brand Ambassador. Ever since I have been stunned in event after event senior’s creativity, courage and confidence to express their inner selves.
Dr. Sheilu Sreenivasan, Founder & President of Dignity Foundation says, “The Intellectual calibre of the panel contributed to very huge level of discussion. Senior citizens really stunned us with their progressive outlook and exercised a total freedom to express their genuine feelings of loneliness and therefore the need for companionship”

Dolly Thakore said that, Dignity Foundation has ushered in a revolution of sorts by creating this platform for openly expressing without fear or rejection their deeply felt thoughts. I am personally all for it. The event that took place was so overwhelming that it made me realize the importance of senior citizens in our lives. It is been said that senior citizens loose their energy and strength at some point of time but we are wrong. At this stage too they have tremendous talent and energy level. I think Dignity Foundation has set up a great platform and an effective channel wherein they can showcase their hidden talent. Thus it also helps in socializing and finding escorts.

Special workshops on productive ageing were also conducted with the help of well known professionals such as Sudha Menon on Writing and Publishing; Dr. Murarkar spoke on skin care. In the evening fashion show was organized to show case men and women parading to various themes as a platform of creative expressions. The event concluded with a Candle Light Dinner.

Dignity Foundation :

Dignity Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established under the Societies Registration Act of 1860. It is also a Public Trust registered with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai. In 1995 the activities of the Foundation were started with the publication of the magazine Dignity Dialogue. It grew into a service delivery organisation responding to the expressed needs conveyed by the senior citizens themselves.

Dignity Foundation is premised upon scientific developments in the fields of Geriatrics and Gerontology. It offers structural opportunities to exercise the choice of how to live healthy and active in chronologically advancing years. Headquartered at Mumbai, the Foundation has Chapters spread across Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, as well as centres at in Mumbai.

By perennially lobbying with corporate bodies and the government it increases the quantum of facilities and amenities made available to the 50+. The institutional goal is about reaching out to larger numbers in the country with an increasing amount of value additions to the basket it offers. The brilliant reality is the basket can only get more enriching since corporate India is showing a great deal of interest in senior citizens. Our discounts offer is testimony to this growth. We wish to distinguish ourselves as social entrepreneurs with capability to identify and empathise with need nuances of this demographically enlarging constituency.

Dignity Foundation organized Dignity Retirement India Expo 2013

 Sep 10, 2013

Dignity Foundation organized Dignity Retirement India Expo 2013

Mumbai : Dignity Foundation, a leading NGO working for the welfare of senior citizens for over 18 years, organized Dignity Retirement India Expo 2013 on 6th & 7th September, 2013 at Nehru Centre. Dignity Foundation provides an enriching and unique set of opportunities to the 50+ to lead a more dignified, secure, joyful and fulfilling life. The expo showcased customised products and services that are much needed by the senior citizens. Apart from the expo Dignity also celebrated the World Elders Day and Dignity Annual Day.
The two-day exhibition and events displayed various kinds of products and services pertaining to life after retirement. Apart from SBI who sponsored the event there were many other corporate stalls like Union Bank of India, Principal Retirement Advisors, DHFL Home Loans, Serene Retirement Communities, Shroff Eye Care, Noble Hygiene, IL&FS Trust Company, Dhwani Hearing, Doctor Eye Institute, BarrierBreak, Yes Bank, Sanskruti Travels and more displayed products like fixed deposits and investment products, good homes for independent living, customized travel packages for senior citizens as well as medical/health products for senior citizens. There was also a stall on organ donation by Hinduja Hospital and one on Adult vaccination. Bhatia hospital provided free health checkup for the visiting senior citizens at the expo.

The Workshop zone was abuzz with interesting sessions across the two days. The workshop schedule commenced with Skin care and looking-good session by the well-known beautician Dr.Jamuna Pai, Skin Care and Looking Good, followed by workshops on Probiotics, Organ Donation, Eye Donation and Cataract Care, Adult Vaccination, The Fascinating Art of Spray Painting, Build a Healthy Posture Awareness, Ozone Therapy, Yoga & Nutrition, and Breathe Better.
World Elders Day celebrations started at 5pm on 7th starting with Cultural performances by Dignitarians, followed by the Annual Day event of Dignity Foundation – celebrated as a Thanksgiving event to 3000 volunteers of Dignity Foundation in Mumbai. Present on the occasion were Mr. Suresh Shetty (Hon’ble minister, Public Health &family welfare & protocol), Mr. Jayantkumar Banthia (Chief Secretary, Maharashtra), Mr. Naresh Yadav (DGM, SBI) and Mr. P. G. Deshpande (Executive Director (HR), Rashtriya Fertilizers Ltd (RCF)).

“It is an honour to be a part of such a wonderful celebration of senior citizens by Dignity Foundation. SBI has been a very important part of most senior citizens and we are happy to see the kind of work done by Dignity Foundation in this field. This kind of platform will motivate and enhance their will power to move ahead in life without assistance or favours” says Mr. Naresh Yadav.

“Private and public limited companies taking part in the two day Expo is a good trend because unless business prospects are identified in catering to a consumer segment, there can never be newer products and services addressing our senior citizens needs. That even in our country, slowly, products and services are getting customised for this group of the population is a positive trend. And Dignity Foundation is providing a platform through this Retirement EXPO to showcase the same to the senior citizens. To attract senior citizens to come and attend the Expo we have many Workshops and Empowerment Stalls of interest to them” adds Dr. Sheilu Sreenivasan, Founder President.

Read here at : http://www.apnnews.com/2013/09/10/dignity-foundation-organized-dignity-retirement-india-expo-2013/

94.3 Radio One partners Dignity Foundation to launch Music Healers

EVENTFAQS Bureau    Tue 17 July, 2012

94.3 Radio One teamed up with the Dignity Foundation to launch Music Healers, an initiative aimed at spreading cheer and joy through music to the elderly population living in various old age homes across the city.

Former Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde and Playback Singer Rajesh Krishnan inaugurated the initiative with elderly people gathered at the Dignity Foundation located at Jayanagar, Bengaluru. The launch was followed by a musical performance by Krishnan and the team of Radio One.

The program concluded with Radio One honouring the chief guests Hegde and Krishnan with the title of Mh.D-Doctorate in Music Healing, which makes them certified Radio One Music Healers.

Volunteers for Radio One's Music Healers initiative will be selected through monthly promos that will be aired on Radio One. Radio One music jockeys will shortlist participants every week from the entries on-air, and accompany them to a congregation of the elderly started by the Dignity Foundation. All volunteers would then be conferred with the title Mh.D-Doctorate in Music Healing, which would then make them certified Radio One Music Healers.

Commenting on the initiative, Shyju Varkey, Station Head, Bangalore and National Marketing Head, 94.3 Radio One said: "Old age is supposed to herald one's second childhood. Unfortunately, with the joint family system breaking up, the elderly are often left to fend for themselves. On the other hand, we've also been noticing a large well-spring of youngsters wanting to give back to society in some way, without being too sure of the various avenues open to them. We thought we'd combine these two, and use the therapeutic abilities of music as the means to bridge them.

Speaking on the occasion, Hegde said: "I sincerely believe music heals people. Music is definitely the connector to the soul. I love listening to music especially ghazals. Music is what has helped me get through my stressful life the last five years. Music heals me and makes me peaceful and relaxed. I am very pleased to be part of this initiative that 94.3 Radio One and Dignity Foundation has come together for."

94.3 Radio One teams up with Dignity Foundation to announce the launch of 'Music Healers'

Media News, Bangalore    July 12, 2012

94.3 Radio One, Bengaluru’s path breaking Bollywood music station teams up with The Dignity Foundation to launch “Music Healers,” an initiative aimed at spreading cheer and joy through music to the elderly population living in various old age homes across the city. Former Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde and Playback Singer Rajesh Krishnan inaugurated the initiative with the elderly people gathered at the Dignity Foundation located at Jayanagar. The launch was followed with a powerful musical performance by Rajesh Krishnan and the team of Radio One.

Announcing the initiative, Shyju Varkey, Station Head, Bangalore and National Marketing Head- 94.3 Radio One shared, “Old age is supposed to herald one’s second childhood. Unfortunately, with the joint family system breaking up, the elderly are often left to fend for themselves. On the other hand, we’ve also been noticing a large well-spring of youngsters wanting to ‘give back to society’ in some way, without being too sure of the various avenues open to them. We thought we’d combine these two, and use the therapeutic abilities of music as the means to bridge them.

Music is a therapy and has great healing powers. Music Healers are those who devote a couple of hours every month, spending time with the elderly singing songs with them, much like we used to in our nursery classes. No matter what age one is, everyone loves music and is touched by it. It is a communication far more powerful than words and far more efficient. The Dignity Foundation has been doing a wonderful job of providing emotional support to the elderly, and we feel privileged to be associating ourselves with them in this venture ”

Volunteers for Radio One’s Music Healers Initiative will be selected through monthly promos that will be aired on Radio One. Radio One Music Jockeys will shortlist participants every week from the entries on-air, and accompany them to a congregation of the Elderly started by the Dignity Foundation. All volunteers would then be conferred with the title Mh.D-Doctorate in Music Healing, which would then make them certified Radio One Music Healers.

Speaking on the occasion, Santhosh Hegde said, “I sincerely believe music heals people. Music is definitely the connector to the soul. I love listening to music especially ghazals. Music is what has helped me get through my stressful life the last five years. Music heals me and makes me peaceful and relaxed. I am very pleased to be part of this initiative that 94.3 Radio One and Dignity Foundation has come together for.”

The launch was followed by a musical performance by the very talented Playback singer Rajesh Krishnan who congratulated 94.3 Radio One and Dignity Foundation for taking up this initiative and enthused the senior citizens to join in for the performance.

The program concluded with Radio One honouring the chief guests Santhosh Hegde and Rajesh Krishnan with the title of Mh.D-Doctorate in Music Healing, which makes them certified Radio One Music Healers.

Dr. Sheliu Srinivasan, Founder, Dignity Foundation quoted “This is all about spreading joy and active aging for the seniors.“

Those interested to be a Music Healer can call the Radio One Office at 67016943 or mail in to musichealers@radioone.in

Helping Hands
India Today

 SHUTAPA PAUL    July 31, 2010

Helping Hands Subir Kumar Chakraborty retired from the West Bengal State Electricity Board more than a decade ago. But it took him a while to discover that the secret of ageing gracefully was to embrace life, and not fade away. He had some savings and didn't want to be a burden on his only daughter. So every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, he comes out of his house in the posh Hindustan Park in Kolkata and goes to Dignity Foundation, an NGO, and follows his long-time passion-singing. Chakraborty is not a lone case.

The elderly during a Chai Adda session at The Dignity Foundation.

At a time when a lot has been written about senior citizens languishing in old age homes or living at the mercy of children who have little time for them, there is a strong sentiment among organisations that work for senior citizens to make them independent. A United Nations survey says that the proportion of the elderly in India's population will rise from the present 82 million to 177 million by 2025. By 2050, one in every four Indians will be a senior citizen. In the face of these numbers, the need to change the system in order to make the lives of the elderly safer and better cannot be overstated.

Dignity Foundation : Headquartered in Mumbai, they offer "life-enriching services" to senior citizens.

Dignity Foundation is one such organisation that is involved in taking care of senior citizens. Headquartered in Mumbai with branches in all major metros, they offer what they call, "life-enriching services". "We believe in propagating active ageing. Through our various programmes, we try to inculcate a sense of self-esteem among senior citizens and encourage them to participate in life and not shy away from it," says Saikat Nasker, a senior social worker at Dignity Foundation, Kolkata.

For 68-year-old Purnima Banerjee, the favourite part of the day is the daily "chai adda" sessions at the foundation. "Some days we have meditation classes, while on others, it's yoga, music or art lessons," she says. Chakraborty, who also works as a volunteer, says, "I visit an 88-year-old and a 94-year-old. I try to give them some company, talk about what's happening and they are happy."

Helping Hands Das (right) and wife mukti are being supported by their US-based son through an organisation called Parental Care. The harsh reality is that with old age comes the sense of being neglected and uncared for. Children have their own lives and even the ones who don't desert their parents don't necessarily have the time to be with them. According to the survey, Elder Abuse in India by HelpAge India, 51 per cent of the elderly feel neglected sometimes while 40 per cent of them feel neglected every day. "Old people just want acceptance and a little attention," says 66-year-old counsellor and psychotherapist Bharati Chowdhury, who being a senior citizen herself understands the depression and loneliness surrounding them. Loneliness and depression may be the unwanted bedfellows of old age, but along with advancing years come much more palpable enemies. Prying neighbours, abusive children and cases of crime against elderly folk are all serious concerns. Almost 36 per cent of the elderly in India have been abused in some way or the other-Mumbai had the highest case of verbal abuse (79 per cent). Emotional abuse was the highest in Delhi at 62 per cent, while Kolkata had the highest case of physical abuse at 22.8 per cent. Sixty-year-old Shanti Swami (name changed) has been conducting English tuition classes in her house for 28 years now.

Parental Care : Provides home-based services like fixing medical appointments and doing bank work for the elderly.

A few years ago, she was harassed by one of her neighbours. "They said that I'm running a brothel under the garb of a tuition class. They may have had an eye on my flat. That's when I sought help from an NGO," she says. Swami could well represent many like her. Nine out of 10 calls received by the Dignity Foundation are concerned with property-related abuse. The study shows that 35 per cent of senior citizens face abuse due to property-related issues, the highest being in Chennai (51.8 per cent).

"Sons (54 per cent) and daughters-in-law (43 per cent) have emerged as major abusers," says Sushmita Ghose, National Director (North and East), HelpAge India. Manas Gupta (name changed) was physically abused regularly by his alcoholic son. The situation became so unbearable for the 71-year-old that he sought help from an NGO. "I can't throw my son out of my house nor can I take legal action against him. After all, I am his father," says Gupta. Abuse by sons was the highest in Bhopal (70 per cent) followed by Patna (57 per cent). Domestic helps abused senior citizens the most in Delhi.

Helping Hands Members of HelpAge India's Kalyan Ashram, an old age home that gives free legal counselling to senior citizens. Extensive laws have been formulated to enforce the rights of senior citizens. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, National Policy on Older Persons, 1998 and Protection for Women against Domestic Violence Act as well as state directives exist to help the elderly. There are also talks for the formation of a National Commission for the Elderly to give more bite to the National Elderly Policy. But only a third of the senior citizens are aware of the laws that safeguard their rights. Thirty-eight per cent feel that the police and lawyers are non-supportive. Needless to say, legal counselling has become an integral part of organisations that serve the older generation. HelpAge India conducts free sessions to inform seniors about the various laws. "When people call us to talk about any kind of abuse they face, we advise them to take legal action. The law is almost one-sided and empowers the parents, but seldom do we see any of them filing a case against their children. Most feel that it's useless to go to the courts against their own family," says Pooja Basu, a lawyer who now works for HelpAge India in Kolkata. According to the survey, almost 53 per cent of senior citizens didn't take action when they faced abuse.

HelpAge India : Set up in 1978, it helps spread awareness about the needs of senior citizens and makes them aware of their own rights.

A growing number of old people live alone while their children work abroad. These senior citizens feel insecure and helpless with no one to take care of their daily needs. In 2009, Priyagopal Das was diagnosed with chronic pneumonia and had to be hospitalised immediately. His son Sandipan, who was working in the US, was at wit's end. Going home for a few days was impossible. That is when his wife Malabika found out about Parental Care India. "Parental Care took charge of everything, from admitting my father to a good hospital to buying medicines and talking to the doctors. They worked relentlessly for the 20 days my father was in the hospital," says Sandipan

"I conceived the idea of an organisation like ours a couple of years back when my father was going through severe depression and I was in the US," says Animesh Chowdhury, CEO of Parental Care India. "We are like family and members can call us anytime to do their chores," says Debabrata Banerjee who looks after the Kolkata operations of Parental Care. People like Debabrata handle everything, from medical appointments and treatments to bank work to even getting appliances fixed. They conduct video conferences between parents and their children who are abroad. They even accompany senior citizens to social functions.

These Non-Resident Indian children buy their peace of mind for a price, of course. There are quarterly subscriptions for $174.99; half yearly ones come for $299.99 and annual subscriptions for $549.99. For every visit, they pay $1 per hour with a minimum of $5 per visit and a maximum cap of $9 per visit. A small price to pay, the children say, for the support and help their parents get even when the distances are great.

Helping Hands Harmony for Silvers Foundation
For the 53-year-old Tina Ambani, it was her passion for serving senior citizens, "a neglected strata of the society" that led to the conception of Harmony for Silvers Foundation. The initiative has been running a magazine for the elderly since 2004 and has launched a toll-free helpline on government financial schemes for the elderly. "The most important aspect of our foundation is the interactive centre where the 400 registered silver members can spend time six times a week," says Hiren Mehta, its programme manager. Here the elderly learn yoga, computers, get vocational training, and become a part of what is called "an active body of silvers".

Widowed seniors living in without remarrying
Hindustan Times

 Riddhi Doshi    June 16, 2013

Retired businessman Mithul Patel*, 70, has been living-in with his partner Kamla Joshi*, 69, a homemaker, for a year now, at the latter’s apartment in Ahmedabad. Having lost their spouses five and seven years ago respectively, and with their children grown — Patel’s two sons are now fathers, and Joshi’s daughter lives in the US with her husband — they had been grappling with loneliness.

When Ahmedabad-based NGO Vina Mulya Amulya Sewa organised a Senior Citizens Jeevan Saathi Sammelan in that city a year ago, aimed at helping seniors find live-in partners, the duo met and, after a few lunch dates, decided to move in together.

“We decided against getting married because my sons were opposed to the idea of sharing their inheritance,” says Patel. “And Kamla would have lost her late husband’s pension.”

It is for precisely these reasons that NGOs such as Vina Mulya Amulya organise such seminars. “We started with senior citizens second marriage programmes, but we found that the live-in arrangement was generally better-received and less complicated,” says founder Natubhai Patel. Responding to demand, the NGO has begun organising similar meets in Mumbai and Surat, in association with local non-profit organisations.

“The number of applicants has risen from 200 per session 10 years ago, when we began, to about 750 per session,” says Patel. “Since we can only accommodate about 350 people per meet, we often have to ask people to wait for our next event.”

With grown children moving away, living and working abroad, and no grandchildren to distract or engage them, it has become important for senior citizens who have lost a spouse to find a companion to keep them from feeling lonely and help care for them, says clinical psychologist Raheen Jummani Jaiswal.

“The key here is to find the right partner. There could be cases of people wanting to be in a relationship for money or sex. This could be detrimental.”

Vina Mulya Amulya is not the only NGO helping bring such couples together. Earlier this month, Mumbai-based NGO Dignity Foundation held a similar event.

And, in Hyderabad, NGO Thodu Needa (Kannada for ‘A companion who is like a shadow, for life’), organises six such events each year, with the number of attendees rising from 70 in 2010, when the first event was organised, to about 450 per event today.

Founder and president of the organisation, NM Rajeshwari, 64, a retired teacher and divorcee who was single for 30 years, found his 67-year-old partner ten months ago, at one such meet.

“I am lucky that my three children and his two kids are extremely supportive of our relationship. In fact all of us, along with our grandchildren, plan outings together,” says Rajeshwari. “It is not so with all families. In India, a live-in relationship, whether involving the young or the old, still raises questions. But the levels of acceptance are certainly rising.”

(* Names changed on request)

Living it up in the twilight years
Hindustan Times

 Humaira Ansari    November 17, 2013

Eight months ago, Malti Kumar, a sprightly 68-year-old, rented out part of her quaint Faridabad bungalow, packed up a lifetime of possessions and moved to The Golden Estate retirement resort nearby.

There, she has the company of other seniors in the 75 independent, serviced rental homes, and the comfort of round-the-clock maintenance, medical, recreational and housekeeping services.

The move, says Kumar, was aimed primarily at freeing herself from the increasingly difficult task of housekeeping, so that she could spend her twilight years doing the things she loves to do — practicing yoga, reading, playing housie, “and soul-searching”.

Accordingly, Kumar paid Rs. 22 lakh for the long-term lease of a 450-sq-ft furnished apartment, equipped with a flat-screen TV, electronic safe, wi-fi, and electronic security system.

For an additional Rs. 19,500 a month, she is also having her meals and housekeeping taken care of.

Upon her departure from the retirement resort, 25% of the Rs. 22 lakh will be refunded. Still, the move is an expensive one. It is, in fact, a luxury. And Kumar feels she’s earned it.

After decades of juggling housekeeping, child-rearing and her job as a corporate consultant, then dealing with the loss of her husband — an engineer-turned-businessman — two years ago, Kumar feels it’s time she spent at least part of their savings on something she wants entirely for herself.

It helps that her daughters are all well-settled, two in the US and one in Delhi. “We were apprehensive at first,” says Bhawna Singh Atwal, 39, the Delhi-based youngest of Kumar’s daughters. “But mama can afford this, so why shouldn’t she sit back and enjoy her time?”

This marks a dramatic shift in attitude — among urban senior citizens and their children — from a sense that life ended by 60, when you could no longer pull your weight in the joint family set-up, to the sense that the silver years are a time of leisure and ease, with responsibilities of job and family done with, leaving you to cash in on decades of savings, investments and hard work.

Stats Check The government of India is yet to catch up with this trend — census and NSSO data do not analyse senior citizens’ assets or spending in any detail, although both sources conduct such analyses for other age groups — but corporate India is already tapping this new market, with retirement resorts, customised travel options, door-step homecare, special wellness programmes, and numerous services dedicated to seniors.
“The first generation to set out and form nuclear families in India has now crossed into senior citizenship. Raising their families alone, they planned ahead,” says Delhi-based sociologist Surinder Singh Jodhka.
“They knew their children would move out, just as they had. So they saved and invested for their post-retirement years, and now have substantial disposable incomes and are happy to pay for what they need, or want.”
The urban middle class in India is retiring with vitality, energy, health and wealth and looking for products and services that are meaningful to them, adds Sheilu Srinivasan, head of Dignity Foundation, a Mumbai-based NGO for seniors.
“The sheer number of these ageing retired professionals and businesspeople is creating a new market in the expanding Indian economy,” Srinivasan adds.
Take Mumbai-based Arun Lakhia, 74. About four months ago, the retired businessman bought EvoTV, a set-top box-like digital device that converted his ordinary television set into a smart TV.
He now uses it to read his morning newspapers, listen to radio stations from around the world, Skype with friends and surf the Internet, all while sunk in his armchair.
“We certainly have larger disposable incomes than silvers did about a decade ago,” says Lakhia, who lives alone, likes to socialise with friends in clubs and gymkhanas and cooks his own Continental meals.
“As for me, I am a happy single silver who likes to live life his way.”

Happy Life

Those dingy, colourless homes for the aged where forgotten seniors went when there was no one left to care for them have been replaced by aspirational real-estate targeted at the socially active, leisure-seeking senior of the new century.

These ‘retirement resorts’ come with around-the-clock housekeeping, catering, health and security staff, and are among the most lucrative offerings on India’s silvers’ market today.

At least six such projects — including Covai’s Serene Retirement in Tamil Nadu, Tata’s Riva Residency in Karnataka, Max India’s Antara Senior Living in Uttarakhand, Dignity Lifestyle in Maharashtra, Golden Estate in Haryana and Ashiyana’s Utsav properties in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and the National Capital Region — are currently in various stages of planning and construction, with some also expanding to second and third phases to meet demand.

Covai, for instance, started with a single township for seniors in Coimbatore in 2005 and is now building eight projects across Bangalore, Pondicherry, Chennai, Hyderabad and Coimbatore.

Promotional brochures for these projects state the target customer as the well-educated, progressive senior citizen eager to live a life of wellness and activity post-retirement.

“Our target is the upper-middle class and affluent silver,” says Antara Senior Living CEO Tara Singh. “India’s silver market is just beginning to evolve and we are happy to be here as it grows.”

At Covai’s Serene Retirement Pondicherry resort, meanwhile, the fun has already begun.

“I entertain guests over drinks in my room, we go out on picnics and go shopping, and I have a paramedic on call at all times,” says Janaki Srinivasan, a retired newsreader, widow and mother of two who moved here from Chennai four months ago. “What else do I need at 80?”

“Isn’t my skin glowing?” says Leena Rajda, 56, beaming. “Mind you, no make-up. Just gymming and dieting.”

A retired lawyer, Rajda has just finished a cardio workout and kickboxing session at Neha’s NutriFit Clinic in south Mumbai. Three years ago, the centre introduced Fit After 50, pegged as an ‘age-friendly’ workout regime. It costs Rs. 6,000 per quarter, and the gym currently has 10 senior citizens registered, up from just two in 2010.

“Since complications such as low immunity and weak bones usually kick in after 50, we decided to devise a module for the 50-plus fitness market,” says co-owner and chief fitness trainer Bhavesh Chheda.

He and his wife Neha, a dietician, chalk out diet charts and exercise routines for each silver client.
Similarly, in Delhi’s Moolchand Hospital, cardiologist and physician Dr KK Aggarwal runs a Body, Mind & Soul Club, where participants pay Rs. 26,000 to receive training in physical and breathing exercises and attend wellness and detoxification discussions. Open to all, this 90-day module sees at least four silvers in every group of 15 to 20 members.

“Most of our seniors are upper-middle-class,” says Dr Aggarwal. “Since they have the money, they don’t mind spending on sessions that help them stay young.”

Delhi businessman Karan Singh, 65, has participated twice in the past two years. “I lost a lot of weight and saw my blood pressure improve,” he says.

At a more corporate level, Max Bupa Health Insurance has been reaching out to seniors since 2010, with age-free insurance cover of more than Rs. 50 lakh. And Max Healthcare is issuing health cards exclusively to seniors at its super-specialty hospital in East Delhi, offering discounts on check-ups, ambulance services, OPD consults and room rent.

Less than two months after the scheme was launched, 5,000 senior citizens have signed up.

From companionship to post-operative care and doorstep medical services, enterprises are turning age-related pain points into business opportunities.

For Rs. 33,000 for three months, for instance, year-old Delhi-based company Epoch Elder Care sends an ‘elder care specialist’ to the subscriber’s home to read to them, play games, help with old hobbies, assist with email, Facebook and Skype, even help them blog.

“Elder-care is certainly a hot market,” says founder and CEO Kabir Chadha.

With services currently available in Delhi, NCR, Mumbai and Pune, Epoch has already found 170 takers.

“My wife Savita looks forward to Swati’s visits,” says VK Lal, 77, of his wife’s Epoch companion. “Savita loves to sing and play the tabla and Swati has an ear for music. They sing, sit and chat in the kitchen, share stories and talk about general affairs.”

Lal’s Boston-based son found Epoch on the Internet. “I was instantly sold to the idea of having an intellectual companion visit my wife because I know she is not too fond of the neighbourhood coffee parties,” says Lal, a former executive advisor. “My son offered to pay, but I refused. I can easily afford to pay for mine and my wife’s happiness in our golden years.”

Lal has also signed up for a Healthcare at Home package where, for Rs. 28,000 for 21 sessions, he has a nurse visit intermittently to perform physiotherapy and check his vitals. “It’s so convenient,” says Lal. “And with all the exercises and medical attention, I feel at least 10 years younger.”

Healthcare at Home launched its services in April and has seen the number of subscribers soar from four to 200.

“People in the prime of their productivity are creating sufficient surplus to spend and indulge after retirement,” says company CEO Vivek Srivastava.

With more leisure time and money at their disposal, travel is another area where companies are beginning to woo senior citizens. In January, Kuoni, for instance, launched a Forever Young programme — a 15-day group tour of Europe with a relaxed itinerary exclusively targeting seniors.

“We are also seeing more silvers opt for self-drive tours to countries such as New Zealand, which also has right-hand drives like India, or golfing tours to South Africa,” says Vishal Suri, CEO of tour operating at Kuoni India.

Shibani Phadkar, a senior vice-president at Thomas Cook India, says their company has seen at 20% year-on-year increase in the silver travelling segment over the past four years.

“This year we organised biking and Alpine trails in Switzerland, pool parties and gambling in Vegas and Macau, and a shopping and spa-rejuvenation trip to Bali, all aimed at seniors,” says Phadkar.

Designs For Silvers

In pursuit of happiness
Hindustan Times

 Saudamini Jain    January 12, 2013

How happy is urban India with The Big Three: health, money and sex life? The findings of the comprehensive, path-breaking 16-city HT-MaRS Happiness Survey are likely to take you by surprise.

The survey was carried out by market research agency MaRS among 5,400 people, an equal number of men and women, in 16 state capitals and major cities in India. The sampling methodology ensured that the respondents were representative of the cities. All respondents were chosen from SEC A and SEC B households. The happiness index was measured by asking a simple question for each of the three aspects:

Money: How happy are you with the amount of money that you have?
Sex life: How happy are you with your sex life?
Health: Given your age, family history, medical history and other environmental factors, how happy do you think you are with your health?

People Happiness Scale
900 or more: Extremely happy
800-900: Happy
700-800: Somewhat happy
600-700: Happiness under strain
600 or below: Unhappy
A variety of things make people happy. There’s no magic formula. It could be a friend, a holiday, a job or something as mundane as the weather. And to measure just how happy people are is no easy feat.
So in an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable and figure out how happy India is, we decided to ask direct questions. For this, the Hindustan Times commissioned market research agency MaRS to carry out the HT-MaRS Happiness Survey. In November and December last year, more than 5,000 people across 16 cities and all age groups were asked to rate their happiness with different aspects of their lives on a scale of 1 to 10. We then multiplied their scores by 100 for a three-digit Happiness Index – a number that tells you not just how happy one city is, but how it compares with other cities in India when posed the same questions.

The survey quizzed people on pretty much every aspect of their lives. But today, in Brunch, we focus on The Big Three: Health, Money and Sex – all the things that make up a good life, all the things that you love about Brunch. Keep in mind that our survey didn’t ask people how healthy they were, how much money they had, or how many times they indulged in sexual activities. We merely wanted to know how happy they were with their well-being, financial situation and sex life. Over the next seven days, you’ll see the rest of the survey unfold in the daily edition of the Hindustan Times. But for now, curl up with all our findings and surprising discoveries about health, money and sex.

Smaller cities are the place to be
Which three cities are the happiest with their health? Indore (happiness index: 805), Jaipur (802) and Patna (800). And which turned out to be the happiest with the money they possess? Ahmedabad (782), Jaipur (770) and Chandigarh (768). This could be because these cities (despite not being major metropolises) have seen major economic growth recently. Businesses and industries are flourishing in Ahmedabad. Tourism is thriving in Jaipur and prosperous Chandigarh has the third highest per capita income in the country.

Where do you think people are happiest with their sex lives? No, not Delhi (it turned out to the least happy – with a happiness index of only 664). Smaller cities scored again: Indore, Patna and Ahmedabad.

So what’s making our smaller cities happier than our big ones? Siddharth Chowdhury, author of the novel Patna Roughcut, says it’s the easier pace of life in a smaller city. Everybody knows everybody, so anything out of line can spread like wildfire. It forces you to be on your best behaviour. “A bigger city [like Delhi or Mumbai] can be an impersonal place,” he says. “People are always living on the edge.”

Any stressed out city dweller will tell you that urban stress affects your well-being. “The level of violence, crime and governance in a city impact not just your health but also your ability to be happy,” says Dr Priya Balu, a senior public health specialist with Delhi’s Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). “How can you be happy when you’re worried about your safety?”

As the metropolises continue to extend their borders to accommodate more and more people, their residents end up spending longer hours commuting – another reason for their dissatisfaction. You could have the same working hours in a smaller city like Jaipur (which ranks #2 in health) but if you live in Delhi (at #13) and work in Gurgaon, your commute is half the distance to Jaipur! Or if you live in Mumbai (which ranked #6) and commute between Thane and Cuffe Parade every day, you’re spending more than two hours in traffic, fuming even as you darken your lungs with every breath. Health experts believe that one hour on the road is normal. But anything more than that is time which could have been better spent in the gym, in a park, or resting.

And if you can barely manage to get half the sleep your body needs, how can you possibly make time for good, regular sex? Sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari explains why smaller cities reported being happier in the bedroom – there are fewer distractions. There’s little nightlife or other sources of entertainment, so “people have the time to experiment and indulge.” Sex in the big cities, on the other hand, tends to become “an act of hurry and duty rather than making love,” he says.


In a city as cramped as Mumbai (which ranked 11th with its sex life), it’s the lack of space that acts as a deterrent to having sex. Dr Anita Patil Deshmukh, executive director of the city’s independent research collective Partners in Urban Knowledge, Action and Research (Pukar) says that when they conducted a survey about privacy and public spaces in Mumbai, “couples, especially those living in 1BHKs, in very candid interviews, said that the lack of space affected their sex lives.”

Marriage is perhaps the best way to get sex
The survey also found that the 18-25 age group is the unhappiest with its sex life (happiness index: 682). It’s not surprising, most unmarried people from that age group who we spoke to after we saw the findings, admitted that their sex life was pretty much non-existent. The only times they had sex often was when they were in a stable relationship. And even then, they said that there was usually no place to do it, unless they were lucky enough to be living on their own. Many, who were lucky enough to have a place, often did not have a partner. “Unlike Japan where they have love hotels, there is a great space problem in the country,” says Dr Kothari.

But, there’s some good news. People over the age of 26 tended to fare better. It could be because many Indians are married by then, taking care of both the place and partner conundrum. “Marriage also gives you more security by making things official,” adds Dr Prakash Kothari.

The survey shows that the 10 years after 25, till you’re 35, tend to be the happiest in your sex life. But even when it goes downhill after, it won’t be as bad as those early years.

Bangalore, Hyderabad overtake Chennai, Kochi
When we asked people simple questions on just how happy they were with their health, money and sex life, Hyderabad and Bangalore were consistently within the 10 happiest cities. Chennai and Kochi were always among the six least happy. Hyderabad, in fact, ranked fourth in terms of being happy with its health.

This, may seem strange – Chennai and Kochi are, after all, big centres for medical tourism. Chennai is the country’s health capital. And the 2011 India Human Development Index report placed Kerala at the top for achieving the highest literacy rate, quality health services and consumption expenditure. But sociology professor GK Karanth from Bangalore’s Institute for Social and Economic Change has a theory about why these cities may still feel unhappy with their healthcare. “Health facilities cater more to the outsider than the local in Chennai and Kochi,” he says. Karanth adds that Bangalore and Hyderabad are far more medicalised and that people tend to visit the doctor more often.

The reason Hyderabad is even happier than Bangalore is probably because the city has better public health response than other southern cities. “Bangalore hasn’t been able to cope with urban stresses,” says Dr Balu of PHFI, Delhi.

What also seems to have worked in favour of Hyderabad and Bangalore is the anonymity that the cities offer. Professor Karanth believes that “the two cities are similar to Mumbai”. There’s a huge migrant population, and thanks to the IT industry, there are more jobs, more business opportunities and simply more ways to find success. They are full of young people who are doing well for themselves.

Although Chennai is expanding as well, and attracting migrants, it “may not accommodate people as comfortably as Bangalore and Hyderabad,” says Karanth. And that may not make it a particularly happy place to live in. Kerala is also grappling with its large population of old people and trying to cope with the fact that more young people are moving out of the state.

Bangalore and Hyderabad have also indicated that they are happier with their sex lives. Could it be because of their largely young (under-35) population? It is a possibility, says Karanth, attributing it to the people’s “uninhibited preparedness for sex”. He also thinks it could be because “in Chennai and Kochi, there is a tendency of conservatism in speech, interaction and body language. These show in attitudes towards sex.”


Age has everything to do with happiness
Of all the age groups, the 60-plus age group is the unhappiest with its health and money. The retired, in fact, are under financial strain. Inflation has soared, old-school financial plans seem woefully inadequate for today’s expenses, and deteriorating health seems to just make matters worse. Our elderly are simply not able to reap the benefits of their lifetime of hard work and scrupulous saving.

Sheilu Srinivasan, founder of the Dignity Foundation, an NGO that provides social support, shelter and advocacy for the elderly, says that “even for people who have health insurance, many insurance companies do not honour very legitimate claims by old people.” The rise in medical expenditure is something that most retired people are unable to deal with. “Someone who retired five years ago cannot cope with inflation today. The money is definitely not enough to continue with the standard of living they were used to.” It is also their inability to adjust to technology that makes them “feel unequipped for the pace of the modern world,” she adds.

People now spend one-third of their lifetime in retirement. India’s average life expectancy is 67.2 years, almost equal to the global average. But the middle and higher classes live well into their 80s, which means, says Himanshu Rath, chairperson of the Agewell Foundation, “we’re seeing a first generation of old people – people who did not see their parents live this long.” They were just not prepared for their old age. “We’ll see a change in 20-30 years,” Rath adds. “The second generation will be better prepared when they grow old because they have a better understanding of the requirements of old people.”

Indian housewives aren’t desperate housewives
Housewives, as our survey found, are happier with their money than working women. It may sit at odds with our notions of Indian housewives as TV addicts with little else to do than gossip and cook. But their sense of happiness could possibly emerge from the fact that the very idea of the housewife has changed.

Being one, especially in our cities, is no longer a compulsion. For the better educated woman of today, it is a voluntary decision. She has greater control over the family. She no longer needs her husband to take her to the multiplex. Says Professor Karanth, “She has the right over the household money – joint accounts, ATM cards.”

Housewives also seemed the happiest with their sex lives (with a happiness index of 766) . Working women in comparison, averaged an index of only 747. Sexologist Dr Kothari says it’s because “a working woman has to work outside the house and within. She’s more stressed.” Housewives on the other hand, have become “more vocal” and are no longer shy about “asking for sex”.

Slow or steady
Is the fast life of the big city for you? Or are you a slow-paced small city kind of person?

It's a simple test
1 being the lowest, and 10 being the highest, at what stress level do you perform best? If your answer is less than 7, you’re suited for a slow-paced life. If more, you belong in a big city.

Dr Sunil Mittal, chairman, Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, New Delhi

Incredible happiness in indore
A few years ago, Indore was a picturesque little town. It was warm, cozy and very happy. Happy, it still is. In fact, according to our Happiness Survey, it is the happiest city with its health and sex life. When it comes to money, the city, also known as mini-Mumbai, is fourth on the list, ahead of Mumbai.

As it turns out, Indore is getting bigger and happier even as you read this. Several things happened simultaneously to cause this: Industries were set up in and around the city, businesses expanded, IT companies began investing, people from bigger cities started moving in, and the price of real estate shot up. The city is now a healthy, wealthy mix of the old moneyed class and the nouveau riche.

Nishant Rajvaidya, 27, grew up in the city and fondly remembers the “aunties who used to call you home for a simple lunch” but now, “the same aunties are driving around the city in their Bentleys and shopping at Satya Paul.” Somehow, in our metropolis minds, Indore was a city of families riding scooters. Far from it. Says Rajvaidya, “My neighbours have a helicopter!”

Interestingly, people really are health-conscious in Indore. Not in the sipping-green-tea-and-munching-on-organic-crackers kind of way but the real thing. “Over the last couple of years, people have woken up and taken to walking,” says Vani Sharma, 43, who works in Indore. Everybody has a club membership. They play tennis and badminton. They go to the gym. Stress hasn’t caught up with them yet. “And there are periodic health checks in every part of the city,” Sharma adds.

And sex? Says, Ishita Gupta (name changed), who also grew up in the city, “Of course people have pre-marital sex. But nobody talks about it.” It’s a small place, everybody knows everybody. That’s probably why it’s so thrilling, she adds wryly. One one-way ticket coming up.

Experts say there are more ways to find success in hyderabad than in Chennai, because the latter might not accommodate its rising migrant population as comfortably.

State among worst in country for senior citizens
Hindustan Times

 HT Correspondent    Mumbai, September 09, 2012

As many as 354 persons above the age of 50 years were murdered across the state in 2011, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The figure meant Maharashtra ranked fourth among all states in terms of people murdered in this age group. Of the 354 persons who were murdered, 252 are males while 102 are females.

Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of murders in this age group with 387 being reported, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 383 murders and Madhya Pradesh with 357.

When asked about the security measures that senior citizens need to take, Dr Sheelu Srinivasan, chairperson of Dignity foundation said, “The only person that can protect the victim (senior citizen) in this case is the victim. We have held several workshops wherein we have given safety tips that are to be kept in mind. The police have also given a list of do’s and don’ts to the senior citizens. At the end of the day, it is they who have to ensure that the security measures are followed.”

The list of tips given by them include ensuring that citizens do not keep cash or valuables in cupboards in front of their domestic helps and not letting strangers inside the house.

“These crimes are preventable and the tips given to the senior citizens should be taken seriously,” added Srinivasan.

Additional commissioner of police (east region) Qaiser Khalid reiterated Srinivasan’s viewpoint.

“We have conducted several drives to ensure that safety tips are followed by senior citizens. However at the end of the day, it is up to them to take the tips seriously,” he said.

Senior citizens give life a second shot by pitching for jobs at recruitment expo
Hindustan Times

 Reetika Subramanian    Mumbai, October 09, 2011

With his starched white shirt tucked into his pleated trousers, Avinash Purat smartly walked into Nehru Centre at Worli on Saturday, CV in hand. Purat, 65, a retired software company manager, looked nervous before his interview for the post of a consultant in an insurance company at the city’s first Retirement Expo organised by Dignity Foundation, a non-profit organisation.

“Post retirement, I have a lot of spare time. I want to put my experience and knowledge to use,” said Purat. “My children (who do not live with him) deposit a token amount in my account every month to run the house. However, earning a basic stipend will help me feel more independent,” he added.

On Saturday, which was the second day of the three-day expo, more than 4,000 senior citizens above 55 years of age walked into the center. By the end of the day, 350 of them had submitted their résumés to begin their second careers.

Those looking at hiring “retired, experienced and dedicated employees” included insurance companies, call centres, banks and corporate houses. “Senior citizens are great opinion makers. They meet their friends regularly and can network better,” said Prem Pandey, sales manager, ING Vysya Life Insurance Co. Ltd, which is recruiting seniors as insurance consultants and accountants. “Most of them are also computer savvy, which makes our job easier,” added Pandey.

While most visitors at the job counter were computer-savvy, there were a few who enrolled for computer classes at the fair. “Being aware of Microsoft Ofice and the internet is a requisite for every job. For those who could not sign up for a job owing to their inability, we will train them at our computer centre for free, making them competent for the job,” said Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president, Dignity Foundation. “However, the centre does not have sufficient computers. We are accepting donations of even second- hand sets,” she added.

Though salary packages rarely exceed Rs. 15,000 per month, money is not the only criteria driving the seniors. Sitting in the interview queue was former Indian Navy biochemist, Nafisa Modi. “I had to quit the navy to join my husband in the Gulf. After returning to the city in the 1990s, we set up a wholesale shop in Crawford Market,” said Modi, 61, whose son recently took over the reins of the business. “With no responsibility to shoulder right now, I would want to occupy my time by engaging in consultancy services,” she added.

‘Passionate’ seniors display collections
Hindustan Times

 Unisha Lohade    Mumbai, February 27, 2011

Pravin Thakkar, 65, is no average film buff. For the last 49 years, the Parel resident has collected cinema hall tickets of 4,100 films. “I have spent Rs. 42,000 on watching the films. I used to stick the tickets in school notebooks and write down the date, time and who I watched the film with,” he said.

Thakkar’s reel affair is on display at the Dignity Foundation’s exhibiton, ‘Passionate Collections’ at Gurukulum, Napean Sea Road. The two-day exhibition, inaugrated on Saturday, has 18 stalls set up by senior citizens, whose lives revolve around their hobby.

Sanjay Joshi, 49, has stamps of 226 countries, currency notes of 190 countries and antique coins from 175 countries.

“I have collected these over the past 25 years with the help of friends and family. I have 500-year-old coins from the time of Akbar, Aurangzeb and Shivaji,” he said.

The banker’s collection began in 1984 when he found ten coins collected by his brother while cleaning his loft.
Dignity Foundation has been organising this exhibition for the last four years.

“The exhibition brings to light the talent of senior citizens and gives them a platform to showcase their hobbies,” said Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president, Dignity Foundation.

“This year we have also organised a food fiesta of grandma’s recipes for the first time to give everyone a taste of the past. Sindhi, Tamilian, Kannadiga, Gujarathi, Maharashtrian, Bengali and Marwari food will be sold at a minimal price,” said Anarkali Velkar, manager, Dignity Enrichment Centre.

Old and vulnerable
Hindustan Times

 Megha Sood    June 03, 2010

Recently, members of Dignity Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, were accused of forging a power of attorney over the property of H.S. Wadia (89) and withdrawing Rs. 1.24 lakh from his account. A chargesheet is expected soon in the case. On February 23, a senior citizen in Bandra was robbed of cash and valuables worth Rs. 1 lakh by her domestic help. Ayesha Khan (35) was a maid at Mona Hiranandani’s (74) house. When Hiranandani was out, Khan opened her cupboard and stole $200 (Rs 9,000) and jewellery and fled. Khan was not traced as Hiranandani had not registered her details with Elderline, a helpline for senior citizens.

MUMBAI: Hiranandani is one of the estimated 10 lakh senior citizens in Mumbai, of whom over 9.6 lakh have not registered with the helpline (Tel No 1090) launched by the police in 2006. Of the 37,023 who have registered, many have not registered their domestic help or ‘service providers’ — milkmen, laundry boys, newspaper vendors, etc. Only 480 domestic employees and service providers were registered till May 17.

More than 4 lakh senior citizens live alone in Mumbai, and they are particularly vulnerable to crime. Non-governmental organisation workers said that in the past decade, 188 senior citizens have been killed. In 2009 alone, more than 30 seniors were victims of robbery and murder; most of these crimes were committed by the domestic help or service providers.
“Seniors’ safety can only be ensured after they register their domestic staff and their service providers,” said Police Inspector Firoz Patel, who is in charge of Elderline.

Police officers said the number of seniors registering themselves rose only after the launch of the website Hamarisuraksha.com in September 2009. Patel said this was because of the wide reach of the Internet and the simple registration process.

But the website has not helped raise the registration of service providers and domestic staff.

A large chunk of seniors’ registrations come from southern and western Mumbai. Within five days of the website’s launch, in Malabar Hill alone 1,200 seniors registered; the number from the central and eastern regions was only 200. Police said this was because southern and western Mumbai have more educated senior citizens and more who stay alone.

However, most domestic employees refuse to get registered as they fear they would automatically become suspects in case of a crime.

A trip down memory lane for senior citizens
Hindustan Times

 Aarefa Johari    Mumbai, April 17, 2010

Starting Sunday, senior citizens in the city can beat the summer heat with five days of cinematic nostalgia. The Dignity Foundation, a non-profit organisation working for senior citizens, will organise a special film festival from April 18 to 22, showcasing films in Hindi, Marathi and English from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

To be held at the Ravindra Natya Mandir, the screenings will be open to all members of the Foundation, who can bring with them up to two non-members.

“The idea behind the festival was to give the elderly a treat with nostalgia, a psychological term for the security one feels by going back to a comfort zone of one’s childhood or youth,” said Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president of the Foundation. “Also, in summers we cannot organise sports or picnic for them.”

Actor and Dignity brand ambassador Tanuja Mukherji is expected to attend the screenings along with sociologist Nandini Sardesai, son of filmmaker V. Shantaram Kiran Shantaram and actors Waheeda Rahman and Kajol.

(The Dignity Film Festival will be held at the Ravindra Natya Mandir, April 18 to 22, from 10 am to 1 pm)

First magazine for elderly now out on stands
Hindustan Times

 Aarefa Johari    Mumbai, April 06, 2010

Retired French teacher Sheila Murdeshwar lives with her husband who still works, but the 72-year-old swears by two companions who always keep her occupied — her sitar, and Dignity Dialogue, the city’s first magazine dedicated to the elderly. When city-based non-profit Dignity Foundation launched the black-and-white monthly on a subscription basis in 1995, it was the only literature available for senior citizens in a maze of edgy, youth-centric magazines. This month, with over 29,000 subscribers across the country for both its English and Hindi full-colour editions, Dignity Dialogue has finally hit the stands in popular bookstores in over 100 cities in India.

“This is perhaps the only magazine I know that addresses issues concerning us. It would really benefit other senior citizens like me,” said Murdeshwar, a Grant Road resident who has been avidly following the magazine’s Silver Fiction pages for eight years.

It’s a section that publishes poems and short stories written by the elderly (50+ citizens in this case), and Murdeshwar has penned a few stories for it herself. For Adi Merchant (71), a retired adman and a free-lance feature writer for Dignity Dialogue, the magazine is all about bringing calm and cheer to those who have been a neglected lot for a long time.

“Some months ago I had done a tongue-in-cheek article on sex for senior citizens, and how they can keep it going. Readers loved it,” said Merchant.

Beyond news reports, travel articles and columns on health and spirituality, Dignity Dialogue takes on the responsibility of telling senior citizens all they need to know about managing retirement, taxation, investments and their legal rights.

“Younger people have the energy to sort their legal and civil problems out. Senior citizens often feel helpless, and need to be guided,” said advocate Sumedha Rao (54), whose legal advice column gets a huge response from readers seeking help with problems of insurance or housing societies.

Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder of Dignity Foundation and the editor of the magazine, is glad they can finally afford to go on stands, at a cover price of Rs. 45. “When we started, senior citizens found it very flattering that someone was putting in so much effort for them. Now it will reach out to larger audiences,” she said.

Old and insecure
Hindustan Times

 Nivedita Khandekar & Megha Sood    January 25, 2010

Lieutenant Commodore (Retired) GD Sharma (79), cannot forget that muggy night. Assailants tried to break into his house in Paschim Vihar, West Delhi. Sharma and his wife Kaushalya, 77, were alone at home. Sharma switched on all the lights inside and outside the entrance and raised an alarm. A double-door, three-latch system helped him thwart the burglary attempt, made in May 2007.

South Delhi resident Rama Nath (73) was not as fortunate. A vegetable vendor she let into her Safdarjung Enclave home to drink water returned with accomplices and slit her throat with a kitchen knife in July 2009. Luckily, her brother happened to come home in time, to discover a bleeding Nath.

Last year, in March, 66-year-old Lucknow trader Arun Jaiswal and his wife Urmila, 62, were found murdered inside their flat.

According to the Kolkata Police web site, there are close to 81 million senior citizens in India. Of these, around 30 per cent stay alone. Not surprisingly, senior citizens become easy prey for criminal predators. In Delhi, say police records, as many as 17 senior citizens were murdered in 2009, up from 15 cases in 2008.

More than 400,000 of Mumbai’s one million senior citizens stay alone. NGO workers say 188 senior citizens were killed in Mumbai over the past decade. In 2009, more than 30 elderly became targets of robbery and murder in the nation’s commercial capital.

“The biggest terror problem we face is not from Pakistan, but from domestic terror, especially aimed at senior citizens,” says Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandhan.

Chandigarh, once considered a peaceful city, has seen a spurt in violent incidents against senior citizens. Tripta Hans (78) was assaulted as she came out of her house in Sector 35.

Old People Neglect from family and loved ones makes the elderly vulnerable to such attacks. “They suffer from loneliness and need a listener. So, they open up immediately to domestic helps and strangers who take advantage of this proximity,” says Neha Shah, Mumbai-based project manager at the Dignity Foundation, which operates a helpline for the elderly.
As soft targets for criminal minds, where do senior citizens turn to in an emergency?
“Taking police help is okay, but not enough. The role of residents’ welfare associations is crucial. It is important that the community be involved,” says Sharma, a former naval officer.

The three-lock system, with latches/bolts at the top, middle and bottom of the main door—implemented by Lakshmi Govindram (88) of Delhi’s East Patel Nagar—is one of the security measures recommended by the Delhi Police. “A security audit of residential premises of senior citizens revealed the need for safety equipment such as door chains, magic eye, iron grille and safety locks,” says Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

Neighbours, residents’ welfare bodies and relatives can play a role, too. The Senior Citizens Council of Delhi has about 700 members. Of these, 150 relatively young members are volunteers. They meet seniors living alone every alternate day.
At a meeting in November 2009, the Veteran’s Sahayata Samiti, a self-help group of senior citizens in Lucknow, floated the idea of community policing before Lucknow Deputy Inspector General of Police Prem Prakash.

But foolproof security for senior citizens has to be a two-way process, says Prakash. “Both the police and public have to participate. The elderly have to be alert and be in touch with the nearest police station,” says Prakash.

Dedicated phone helplines help assure the elderly that the police and society care for them.

The Mumbai police have launched helplines and websites where the elderly can register themselves and call for emergency, medical or counselling assistance. More than 22,000 senior citizens are registered with ElderLine, a network of individuals and organisations who volunteer their services to help senior citizens. The scheme functions through Mumbai Police Infoline 1090.

“I have been staying alone since my husband died three years ago. I had been suffering from loneliness since I did not get out of the house much. Last year, I registered myself with the Elderline. Since then, I call the helpline sometimes even thrice a day just to talk,” says Vinita Kamble (76), a resident of Marine Drive and a former banker. In Delhi, the helpline 1291 attends to distress calls from senior citizens. A mechanism has been devised to monitor their calls and conduct regular checks on actions taken by the local police.

During 2009, the Delhi Police’s Senior Citizens Security cell contacted 3,641 senior citizens in person and 13,740 senior citizens over the telephone.

But despite these senior citizens continue to feel unsafe, as is evident from our survey.

The age of reason
Hindustan Times

 Dhamini Ratnam    Mumbai, September 30, 2009

Gradual loss of memory and cognitive reasoning is often seen to be a ‘natural’ process of ageing. However, not many people recognise that these symptoms may point to a deeper, and more widespread, mental malaise. A recent report released by Alzheimer’s Disease International states that more than 35 million people worldwide will suffer from AD and other forms of dementia by next year. Dementia, which is the loss of cognitive functioning, remembering, and reasoning to the extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities, “is not part of ageing, but a disorder of the aged,” Dr Charles Pinto, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Nair Hospital, Bombay Central, points out.
However, the risk for dementia increases, as one grows older. It is estimated that one out of every two people above the age of 85 have some form of dementia, while 5 per cent of those above 65 are at risk. While there is no known way of preventing it, reducing one’s risk of heart disease, and keeping physically, mentally and socially active, is believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The A word
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common kind of dementia and accounts for nearly 50 per cent of all dementia cases worldwide. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disease, where the brain develops abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibres that slowly destroy memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

The report released by Alzheimer’s Disease International on September 21, also says that number of people suffering from AD and other forms of dementia will double every 20 years. The number of people with dementia in India just four years ago was 32.5 lakh. By 2020, there will be more than 56 lakh people in India with dementia according to the report.


At great risk
According to Pinto, the increase in number of dementia cases among the old can be attributed to an increase in the aged population, an improved life expectancy and greater awareness of the condition. According to a 2005 World Health Organisation study, life expectancy at birth for men is 64 years, and for women is 66 years. In 2002, life expectancy for both was 53 years.

“Within the next couple of decades, India will have a higher population of older people than it does now. The same holds true for most developing countries,” Pinto said.

At the same time, he pointed out, Indians are at risk for all forms of dementia because of their attitude towards their health. Risk factors for AD include diabetes and hypertension, common ailments among Indians. The lack of proper infrastructural support such as day care centres and homes for persons with dementia, combined with our disinterest in seeking treatment makes us prime targets.

To tackle the epidemic proportions of dementia we are facing, we need to ensure early detection and treatment, by visiting memory clinics and screening camps. At the same time, we also need to recognise the precise nature of AD, and not confuse it with the processes of ageing.
Growing old is not an inexorable journey towards incapacity.

While there are support groups for caregivers to help them cope (see box: Support system), living with a family member who has Alzheimer’s is by no means easy. While drugs currently available for AD help reduce the symptoms and behavioural changes that affect a patient, they cannot arrest the progress of the disease. As a result, the condition of the patient worsens. Khoparkhairne resident Renu Suchdev, 49, took care of her father during the last few months of his illness. She shares her story with us. See ‘Keeping the memory alive’.

What is alzheimer’s?
According to Sailesh Mishra, president, Silver Innings Foundation, and member of Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI), patients of AD often face difficulty making decisions, short-term memory loss, temporal disorientation, and exhibit signs of depression and aggression.
Patients of AD should continue with activities they have been doing, like keeping accounts or checking the mail, for as long as they can. It doesn’t matter if the account log doesn’t add up in the end — it is necessary for them to establish a habit and stick to it. For this, they need the help of their caregivers. It isn’t enough to tell them to do something — they need to be helped keeping up with the task. Like keeping a journal, for instance. Also, keep their environment as unchanged as possible and simplify instructions for them.
Initial symptoms of AD include repeating statements; misplacing items; forgetting names of familiar persons and objects; getting lost on familiar routes; personality changes; losing interest in things that interested them earlier; inability to learn new information. At an advanced stage, the person forgets everyday details, and loses awareness about him/herself. At such a time, even simple tasks like eating, wearing clothes or bathing become difficult to perform.

Cope with the condition
Does an elderly person in your family have AD?

  •  Accept that it is a disorder — many confuse it with ageing.
  •  There are going to behavioral disturbances that affect daily living — you need to be supportive, not critical.
  •  Do not stop their medication.
  •  Check for other disorders and take care of physical and nutritional aspects of these people.
  •  Don’t take it on all by yourself. Caregivers need to have time out. Divide the work equally among all members of the family, or seek support.

Support system

  •  Silver Innings Dementia Support Group, for residents from Bhayander to Andheri offer home visits of therapists and training for care givers at a nominal cost. Helpline number: 9987104233.
  •  Holy Family Dementia Support Group for Caregivers, Holy Family Hospital, Bandra. Will start on October 10, 2009. Contact: Sailesh Mishra, 9819819145
  •  Dignity Foundation runs a day care centre for dementia patients in Lamington Road. Contact: 23898078. There is also a full-time home for them in Neral. Contact: 02148-236600/236635
  •  Prof Cathy Greenblat, Professor Emerita of Sociology at Rutgers University, is currently in town delivering a series of lectures on Alzheimer’s Disease. Contact Silver Innings foundation for more details.
  •  Memory Clinics are present in JJ Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and Sion Hospital.
For the joy of a sabbatical
Hindustan Times

 Kinjal Dagli    May 31, 2008

Sandeep Mathur, 34, discovered a passion for social work
After seven years in the corporate banking sector, Sandeep Mathur had had enough. So, two months into a new job as senior manager with a Dutch bank, he called it quits — if only temporarily. “There was this constant feeling of exhaustion. I had put on a lot of weight too. I didn’t like my new job, and I just decided I would not look for another,” recalls 34-year-old Mathur, now working as a senior relationship manager with a global bank. “The day I quit, and sat in the cab, I remember feeling free just riding along Marine Drive. I had nowhere to go; nowhere to be. There was an immense sense of relief,” he says.
For one year, from July 2006 to August 2007, Mathur did just what he wanted — road trips, backpacking, social work, and gym workouts.

“I took a 20-day backpacking trip to Turkey by myself, explored Thailand on another trip, and for a few months, volunteered for Akanksha, an NGO that educates street children. I also got back into shape,” says Mathur, adding that that besides stuff he already knew about himself, he unearthed more. “I was aware of my love of travelling, so the leave I took reinforced that. But I discovered I had a passion for social work. For my birthday, the street kids at Akanksha made a crown for me and celebrated the occasion. It was the happiest I had felt in many years,” says Mathur.

His industry, though, was far from sympathetic at the idea of a ‘break’. Six months into the sabbatical, Mathur started looking for a job, and realised it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Going on leave to study or pursue an interest related to your career is comprehendible for employers. But if you say you took a break just like that, they wonder if you’re reliable. At every interview after that, I would spend the first ten minutes explaining my ‘break’. But I have no regrets,” recalls Mathur, who ultimately landed a job and got back in the game. “It just took me a few months longer to find a job I liked, but it was well worth the trouble.”

Bhushan Jawlekar, 32, stopped to smell the roses. Recharged, got back to work
“The plan was not to have a plan,” says Bhushan Jawlekar, group project manager, Infosys Technologies who took a four-month long break last year after a career run of 11 years.

“Holidaying was not the prime mover for sabbatical — I went to the Konkan beaches for a bit, but it was more of being at home — completely relaxed, and chilling with the family.”

What brought on the break? Jawlekar says he started feeling like he was missing out on the good things in life, and was becoming “one-dimensional”. Fortunately for him, he worked for an organisation that offers up to year-long sabbaticals once every five years. And while it raised some eyebrows in the family, Jawlekar says it was one of the most satisfying periods of his life. “It is not too common to see people go on extended leaves without a pressing reason.”

“My wife understood the logic, but was she worried that if my leave caused a setback in my career, it might frustrate me later”, explains Jawlekar. Her worries were unfounded, as Jawlekar discovered: “With any career, it’s a give and take deal — you miss out on action for four months, but you come back recharged and somewhat better equipped.”

Elizabeth Verghese, 53, helped the aged
Elizabeth Verghese had been at her Reserve Bank of India (RBI) job for 29 years. The 53-year-old assistant general manager never once felt the need for a break. But about eight years away from retirement, in July 2006, Verghese decided she needed to temporarily halt her growing career and pause to think.

Luckily for her, just around the time, the RBI came up with a scheme that allowed employees to take up to four years off to study or work in the non-governmental sector. “It was great timing,” says Verghese who wanted to work with senior citizens.

Verghese spent about a year at Dignity Foundation, an NGO that works with the elderly, as director of services and contributed with many a banking and organisational skill.“I interacted with the senior citizens, participating in all their recreational and activities as well as comprehending their emotions, anxieties, and attitude towards life in their sunset years,” she recalls.

Her banking experience also came in handy. “I introduced the seniors to one of the latest initiatives for social security offered by National Housing Bank called the Reverse Mortgage Scheme,” she says.
And while she helped others, she found clues for planning something to occupy herself. “Within a year, I realised the urgency of the need to have a post-retirement plan. The sabbatical helped me engage in something meaningful and productive, which had only been a part of my imagination. I came back to my job a happier and inspired person,” she says.

Bipasha Majumder, 34, reinvented the artist in her
“Once you’ve taken a break, you can never get enough of it,” says 34-year-old Bipasha Majumder, a Delhi-based advertising professional who hung up her boots for six months to do a variety of things — painting, writing, vipassana meditation, and trekking. “I had been in advertising for about six years without a break. It’s an industry that makes it easy to lose touch with yourself, your friends and family. I desperately wanted to pack my bags and take off,” recalls Majumder. But before she took off, she did a trial run. “I went on leave for two months to backpack across South India with a friend. After I came back, I resigned,” she says.

Majumder believes the goal of a sabbatical is do the things one enjoys. “I used to paint, but hadn’t done it in years. So I relearned oil painting. Along the way realised I was good at writing. Some of my travel experiences, even found themselves in magazines,” she recalls. And, turns out, she became a calmer person. “I could handle stress better after that break,”she says. But a sabbatical can only last so long. And sometimes, it becomes a negotiating point for potential employers.

“Money pulled me back into the job market, and I shifted to Mumbai. Some agencies tried to haggle with me on account of the break, but I decided I didn’t want to join those places anyway. I was careful to join an organisation that supported the need for a person to get away,” she says.

Lending a hand: India’s best practices
Hindustan Times

 Hindustan Times    November 19, 2007

Labour Fund

  •  To overcome the difficulty in sustaining pensions, Kerala has initiated an innovative labour fund.
  •  Workers can join & contribute to the growth of the fund and get benefits in health, education, recreation, water supply, burial allowance & gratuity etc.

Free Foodgrains

  •  A Ministry of Rural Development initiative, the Annapurna Scheme provides free food grains (wheat or rice) up to 10 kg per month to destitute persons 65 years or above who are otherwise eligible for old age pension but are not receiving it.
  •  From 2002-03, it has been transferred to the State Plan along with the National Social Assistance Programme comprising the National Old Age Pension Scheme and the National Family Benefit Scheme. States have flexibility in the choice of beneficiaries and implementation of the Scheme.

Livelihood Support

  •  HelpAge’s income generation & microcredit schemes have helped set up 114 income-generation projects for elders till date.
  •  It’s “Sponsor a Grandparent” scheme has helped form link between sponsors and old people requiring financial & medical assistance.

Employment Exchange

  •  Agewell Foundations’s Eklavya campaign encourages older people to take up home tuitions & freelance chartered accountancy in their neighbourhoods.
  •  Dignity Foundation’s Second Careers enables old people to seek productive employment or voluntary work.

Mobile Healthcare

  •  HelpAge India’s mobile medical healthcare units have dispensed more than 10 lakh treatments in 2006, with many corporate houses donating to help run these mobile clinics.
  •  These Mobile Medicare Units (MMU), manned by a qualified doctor, a pharmacist & a social worker, dispense free treatment & medicines to the elderly.

Interaction Centers

  •  Dignity Foundation’s “Chai Masti” clubs provide computer training, yoga, dance & music classes to help the elderly learn as well as interact.
  •  The Harmony Interactive Center in Mumbai has started a day care center for the elderly where they are engaged in activities that help improve their well being.
  •  Apart from setting up helplines, NGOs like Agewell Foundation send trained volunteers to assist and guide elders in their various interests.
Parents in pain show will power
Hindustan Times

 Neha Mehta    New Delhi, February 04, 2007

Imprisoned in his own house by his son and his family, a North Delhi resident has willed his house to charity. He has also written a detailed account of his agony. Both will be found among his papers after his death. A wealthy patriarch had willed his property to his son. But his son grew increasingly callous. Fed-up, he has revoked his will, and gifted the property to his daughter.

A ‘complete lack of unity, understanding, love, affection or respect’ from his four children has compelled a 66-year-old on his deathbed to leave his property to charity. He says his health failed him because of the ‘adverse role of the family’ in his life.

It’s an inheritance of loss for the callous Indian. The ageing, humiliated, ailing and uncared-for parent is showing an unwillingness to bequeath hard-earned property to ill-behaved offspring. For him, property and propriety have to go together.

Says Mathew Cherian, chief executive, HelpAge India, “We have seen such cases nearly double over the last decade. Children want the father’s property but not the father.” This trend is predominantly seen in urban middle and upper-middle class families, he adds.

Fuelling the trend is the elderly’s increased access to legal information. Mumbai’s Dignity Foundation gives legal advice to parents who want to exclude abusive children from their property. Delhi High Court advocate K K Bhuchar says that though the Indian parent still has a magnanimous heart, at least 10 per cent more seek his help on such matters than in the mid-1990s.

Talk of the bill to protect the rights of the elderly, introduced last year, has contributed to a spurt in such cases, says Himanshu Rath, founder-director of Agewell Foundation. “Only in cases of extreme exception will they take such a drastic step. Most often, it is only posturing,” he says.

And the cases will rise, says Aruneshwar Gupta, Supreme Court advocate and legal advisor, Agewell, since “people are living longer and their children have less time for them.” According to him, parents may feel the need to exclude one or more children from their will around 75-80 years of age, when they don’t get the physical and emotional support they need.

Sociologist Dipankar Gupta is upbeat about this new ‘sense of autonomy’. “Older people are saying that it is up to them who they give their property to. If the children want the property, they better behave themselves.”

Driven to pain by children, the elderly show ?will? power
Hindustan Times

 Neha Mehta    New Delhi, February 04, 2007

Imprisoned in his own house by his son and his family, a north Delhi resident has willed his house to charity. He has also written a detailed account of his agony. Both will be found among his papers after his death. A wealthy patriarch had willed his property to his son. But his son grew increasingly callous. Fed-up, he has revoked his will, and gifted the property to his daughter.

A ‘complete lack of unity, understanding, love, affection or respect’ from his four children has compelled a 66-year-old on his deathbed to leave his property to charity. He says his health failed him because of the ‘adverse role of the family’ in his life.

A widower living in a posh south Delhi colony is crestfallen whenever his son and family, who live on the upper floor of his house, pass through his courtyard without talking to him. He recently sought HelpAge’s legal advice to evict the family.

It’s an inheritance of loss for the callous Indian. The ageing, humiliated, ailing and uncared-for parent is showing an unwillingness to bequeath hard-earned property to ill-behaved offspring. For him, property and propriety have to go together. Says Mathew Cherian, chief executive,

HelpAge India, “We have seen such cases nearly double over the last decade. Children want the father’s property but not the father.” This trend is predominantly seen in urban middle and upper-middle class families, he adds.

Fuelling the trend is the elderly’s increased access to legal information. Mumbai’s Dignity Foundation gives legal advice to parents who want to exclude abusive children from their property. Delhi High Court advocate K.K. Bhuchar says that though the Indian parent still has a magnanimous heart, at least 10 per cent more seek his help on such matters than in the mid-1990s.

Talk of the bill to protect the rights of the elderly, introduced last year, has contributed to a spurt in such cases, says Himanshu Rath, founder-director of Agewell Foundation. “Only in cases of extreme exception will they take such a drastic step. Most often, it is only posturing,” he says.

And the cases will rise, says Aruneshwar Gupta, Supreme Court advocate and legal advisor, Agewell, since “people are living longer and their children have less time for them.”

According to him, parents may feel the need to exclude one or more children from their will around 75-80 years of age, when they do not get the physical and emotional support they need.

Sociologist Dipankar Gupta is upbeat about this new ‘sense of autonomy’. “Older people are saying that it is up to them who they give their property to. If the children want the property, they better behave themselves.”

Parents sue children for maintenance
Hindustan Times

 Aditya Ghosh    Mumbai, January 29, 2007

Finally, 75-year-old Parvati Parab can meet her son, thanks to a court order. Even if the venue is a courtroom, on February 9, she wants to ask Dilip why he left for the US without telling her. "I wanted to know what faults I had committed in bringing him up that he should behave this way with me," she says.

Parab had fought a two-year-long battle in the family court to win a Rs. 4,000-a-month compensation from her son.

At the Mumbai Family Court, this is not an isolated incident. Lawyers are flooded with cases filed by parents against their sons and daughters.

So, Manjula Shah (name changed) waits outside the courtroom in the hope of being granted maintenance from her son, while Arpan Desai (name changed) tries to resist his daughter's decision to pack him off to an old-age home.

"About 10 per cent cases are filed by parents against their offspring, demanding maintenance," said Sandhya Sharma, secretary of the Family Court Bar Association.

"Most complaints are from the middle class where values are fast eroding," said Sheilu Srinivasan, president of Dignity Foundation, an NGO. The foundation receives seven to 10 calls a day from distressed parents.

Dignity venture with UTI

 Friday, Aug 18, 2006, 22:00 IST

Dignity Foundation has finalised a joint venture with UTI Bank to extend a slew of services to the elderly.

Dignity Foundation has finalised a joint venture with UTI Bank to extend a slew of services to the elderly, primarily the issuing of senior citizen identity cards.

Select UTI branches will now display bright banners and posters welcoming senior citizens to what will be called 'Dignity desks'.

Information about all Dignity services which includes the helpline, Dignity dialogue, dementia centre, Voice of Dignity, second careers, companionship, dignity lifestyle and chai-masti.

This venture will also provide senior citizens the opportunity to become members of the foundation or volunteer for the various services of the NGO.

SH Subrahmanian

Old story: Shame on young India

 Shabana Ansari    Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011, 1:43 IST

It is estimated that the country's current elderly population of about 81 million will nearly double to 150 million by 2020. Are we equipped to provide dignity and security to our seniors?

When 69-year-old Gautam Kataria’s daughter married and moved to another city and his son took up a job abroad, the retired widower had apprehensions about living alone.

Kataria’s fears are not unfounded as criminals often target the elderly. “Nearly 100 senior citizens were robbed or murdered last year across major Indian cities,” says SP Kinjawdekar, president of the All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation.

“Earlier, it was taken for granted that you would grow old with your children and their families around you. But now, there is no guarantee of that,” says Prakash Borgaonkar, director of HelpAge India.

It is estimated that the country’s current elderly population of about 81 million will nearly double to 150 million by 2020. Are we equipped to provide dignity and security to our seniors?

The answer is no.

For Kataria, the solution came in the form of a privately-run old-age facility in Mumbai. He sold his flat to pay for his lodging, boarding and medical expenses.

So, are old-age homes the solution to problems faced by senior citizens living alone? Yes and no, says Asha Desai, 71, who was sent to a Santa Cruz old-age home when her sons migrated to the US five years ago. “I feel secure that I will not be robbed or murdered here, but I miss my old life,” she adds.

There is demand but a dearth of affordable options in Mumbai. “There are only 22 old-age homes in the city,” says Neha Shah, general manager of social support services at Dignity Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with senior citizens.

Also, there is a social stigma attached to living in old-age homes. “It is presumed, often correctly, that you have been abused, abandoned or thrown out by your kids if you stay at an old-age facility,” says Ravinder Verma, 67, a victim of verbal abuse who now shares a rented flat with another elderly friend and fellow sufferer.

The government is yet to work out a better plan for needs of seniors living alone, but the private sector has recognised the demand. “The concept of retirement colonies is emerging as a viable option for those who can afford them,” says Santosh Dhamdhere, marketing manager at Athashri, a Pune retirement colony.

Other retirement complexes near Mumbai include Dignity Foundation’s project at Neral, Ashiana Housing’s resort at Lavasa, and the Golden Nest Senior Commune at Pune. However, these are only available to the affluent since the monthly rent is between Rs15,000 and Rs25,000.

Dignity Foundation also runs a more affordable centre at Mira Road, but the capacity is as low as 10.

A place to just hang out in Bangalore

 Ankita Kumar, Prachi Pandey    Thursday, May 27, 2010, 9:39 IST

There may be cafes galore in the city, but very few that the elderly feel comfortable in. Dignity Foundation aims to change that by giving them spaces they can call their own.

I used to feel awkward going to outlets of cafe chains because they are full of young people. I would feel really out of place,” says Dr ST Acharyulu, a retired professor. That’s a sentiment echoed by many senior citizens in the city, who find it difficult to fit into new-age cafes with their hip crowd and uber cool decor.

Take 67-year-old Dr Subhash Heremat for instance, who regularly visited the quaint India Coffee House on MG Road. After it was shifted to Church Street, Heremat found it had lost its appeal and stopped visiting it. “Many of the old patrons, some of whom are my friends, don’t visit the new one that often. The new Coffee House is smaller in size and there also too many new faces, all youngsters. We feel a little out of place.” Yet, according to him, retired folks need to socialise as much as the young.

“Catching up with your friends in a non-intimidating space makes a huge difference,” he says.

Dignity Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with the elderly, has tapped into this need and has launched a new chain of cafes-cum-clubs called Dignity Coffee Chavadi that promises to provide venues for senior citizens to socialise at. The concept kicked off in Mumbai in 2005, where it is known by the name Dignity Chai Masti Club. In Bangalore, however, the club was rechristened as Dignity Coffee Chavadi as coffee is more popular down south.

“Chavadi means a stone platform outside a house, a village hall or a gathering place,” says NB Jayaprakash, honorary director of the Dignity Foundation. With Coffee Chavadi, they intended to “create a platform for the seniors”, he explains.

Retired Army officer Nagaraj Rao, who has been to a Coffee Chavadi, feels it is a great forum for people his age. “It is not fair that there are plenty of places for youngsters to meet at but very few for the old. India Coffee House was one of them. But now even that has been shifted and does not hold the same emotional value. I am glad that Dignity Foundation has taken this initiative,” says Rao.

This club, meant for people over the age of 50, has created a space for them to bond over a good cup of coffee and participate in many activities tailored for them. The first Dignity Coffee Chavadi opened in Cox Town in January this year. It has branches in Hebbal, Magadi Road and a recently opened one in Jayanagar. The Dignity Foundation plans to establish at least 20 more centres in the city.

“We aim to set up many more centres to make a Chavadi accessible to old people everywhere in the city, as commuting long distances is usually a problem for most of them,” says Jayaprakash.

Coffee Chavadi is open every day between 4pm and 6pm and offers coffee alongside entertainment such as film screenings, old film songs, quizzes, cooking classes, painting lessons and even some Tai-Chi. “It has a really nice atmosphere. One visit to this place and you’ll feel like you belong there. It is very different from the other cafes in Bangalore as there is a personal touch, which makes you feel at home,” says Dr Jayashree, an active member of Coffee Chavadi.

“Further, small things such as winning a game organised at Chavadi gives you a sense of achievement. We really look forward to coming here,” adds Jayashree.

Furthermore, Dignity Foundation has also incorporated a unique concept called ‘Surakshabandhana’, which gives grandparents an opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren. “With the disintegration of the joint family system, many youngsters have lost touch with the older generation. This concept will help bridge the generation gap that makes most senior citizens feel alienated and emotionally estranged,” says Jayaprakash.

Nevertheless, there remain a few old-time joints in the city such as Koshys that still make senior citizens feel welcome.
“Koshy’s has been in Bangalore for the past three generations and the older people feel at home when they come here. They are the real architects of our restaurant,” says Prem Koshy, MD, Koshys.

“They have a number of groups and they constantly change their circles. They discuss religion, politics, culture, science — almost everything under the sun! Our oldest customer is 83 and there is a popular joke amongst them that if they miss their daily repartee at Koshy's, they are either out of town or dangerously ill!”

A place to just hang out in Bangalore

 Priya Ramakrishnan    Saturday, Apr 17, 2010, 0:52 IST

Dignity Foundation, an organisation for the elderly, has organised a 5-day film fest for senior citizens. The films are from the '60s and early '70s and will be screened at the Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

While fast-paced action, sharp dialogues and noisy item numbers make up the latest Bollywood chartbusters, for the city’s senior citizens, it’s all a blur.

Catching the latest movie at the theatre is not enjoyable anymore as most elderly people complain of not being able to understand the complicated plot.

However, keeping in mind their needs, Dignity Foundation, an organisation for the elderly, has organised a five-day film festival exclusively for senior citizens.

“The main intention of organising this festival is to take senior citizens on a nostalgic trip. The films selected for the five-day festival are from the ’60s and early ’70s and would provide seniors with many hours of enjoyment,” said Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder president, Dignity Foundation.

Some of the movies to be screened at the festival include Anubhav, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, Mr and Mrs 55, Roman Holiday, etc.

The screenings will be held at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi, which has a seating capacity of around 200.

The senior citizens can bring along guests to watch the movies.

“I have never attended any film festival and am looking forward to it. I find the new movies very noisy and fast-paced. I keep missing the key dialogues and don’t understand the storyline. Even though I accompany my family to the movies, I do not enjoy them like I did in my younger days,” said 76-year-old Manjula Bhagavandas, a resident of Altamount Road.

“I will be going with a friend to watch Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Anubhav. It will be a pleasant change from watching these modern movies,” she said.

The foundation has also invited some celebrities to interact with senior citizens during intermission and make their day.

“We have invited celebrities like Waheeda Rehman and Poonam Dhillon to grace the occasion and meet senior citizens,” said Sreenivasan.

Dinky Tauro, a 65-year-old Kurla resident, is looking forward to watching his all-time favourite Hollywood movie, Roman Holiday.

“They don’t make movies like those anymore. Watching the Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn movie will bring back pleasant memories of my college days. I don’t watch Bollywood movies anymore, but will definitely go for Mr and Mrs 55,” he said.

The fest was also held at Bangalore, Kolkata and a few other cities where senior citizens were treated to their favourite yesteryear films. The films will be screened from April 18 to 22.

A networking carnival for senior citizens in Chennai

 DNA Correspondent    Saturday, Sep 10, 2011, 18:52 IST

They have emerged as the most powerful political constituency in the country because there are 97 million people in India who are above 60 years, according to Sheilu Srinivasan, a social scientist.

Senior citizens across the country complaining of loneliness, helplessness and feeling discarded by their children need not worry anymore. They have emerged as the most powerful political constituency in the country because there are 97 million people in India who are above 60 years, according to Sheilu Srinivasan, a social scientist.

“Political parties framing legislations with emphasis on senior citizens stand to harvest rich electoral dividends,” Srinivasan said in Chennai on Saturday.

The Dignity Foundation headed by her launched a three-day Retirement India Expo 2011 in Chennai on Saturday with active participation of senior citizens, corporate entities, banking and housing financial companies and corporates specialising in old age related issues.

“This is the first of its kind expo in the country and is a prelude to mega events featuring senior citizens to be held in places like Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore,” said Janaki Raman, the event manager. The Chennai expo has been organised like a carnival where senior citizens can network with corporate and organisations who will help and guide them to make retirement life a pleasant experience, said Raman. More than 2,000 senior citizens crowded the Chennai Trade Centre for a variety of needs and requirements.

Venkitachalam, a former railway employee had come accompanied by his wife Jayanthi to find out a suitable accommodation in Chennai suburbs where there is connectivity, proximity and privacy. “We need a telephone connection as well as round-the-clock proximity to a hospital,” said Venkitachalam. All his three sons are employed in USA where they have settled down for good.

Suresh Bhagwat, director, Paranjape Sxchemes, a Pune based realtor, was at hand with a series of proposals to suit the needs of couples like the Venkitachalams. “We have a range of houses to choose from. The budget starts from Rs25 lakh and all these houses are meant exclusively for senior citizens. The units have been built by integrating connectivity, proximity and privacy factors,” said Bhagwat.

Aged people who have been ditched by their wards can have a secured roof over their heads and three square meals a day, all for Rs3,000 per month. “There are consultants in this expo who will guide and help such people,” said Srinivasan. She said the business in old age is mind boggling. “Till date no one has done any studies to find the exact worth of the business in old age,” she said.

The expo is not about finding a suitable accommodation or a day care centre for the aged. “There are prospective employers looking out for thousands of senior citizens for part time jobs. Minimum requirements are graduation, reasonably good health and an urge to work. They are being offered good salaries,” said Srinivasan.

Both she and Janaki Raman are of the view that there is more fun in being a senior citizen.

Insecurity haunts senior citizens

 Neeta Kolhatkar    Saturday, Oct 15, 2005, 23:26 IST

Police statistics show a 25 per cent increase in the murders of senior citizens since last year while 50 per cent cases have gone undetected

Seventy-two-year-old Yeshwant Phadke, (name changed) from Mughbhat, Charni Road, sits in the passage outside his chawl as neighbours keep watch. He considers he is lucky to be living in an area where he is secure. His kin are confident neighbours can guard him well.

Unlike Phadke, others grapple with double doors, grills and chains, often living a lonely existence in the shadow of fear of being killed by own trusted workers or relatives.

Police statistics show a 25 per cent increase in the murders of senior citizens since last year while 50 per cent cases have gone undetected. They, however, do not view this as an alarming situation.

"For a city like Mumbai, the trend is bad, but not serious. Senior citizens need to be careful with their domestic helps, watchmen and other people, they being the culprits in most cases," said DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police), Dhananjay Kamlakar.

Dignity Foundation, only organisation dedicated to senior citizens however, feels this is serious. They say the indicator is the rise in the number of calls on their helpline. "We see a 40 per cent rise in the calls for help against abuse," stated Kartika Anthony, psychologist, Dignity Foundation.

Sociologists attribute this trend to the trust senior citizens show on their workers. They feel the concepts of good old neighbourhood and joint family values do not hold anymore.

Police say in many cases, there is a motive to kill.

"There are insiders involved. Like where a son gives 'supari' to kill his father. The police can do precious little. The society needs to gear up towards protecting senior citizens," stated Kamlakar.

Experts agree the elderly need to be careful about their lifestyle and what they speak in front of their workers. "Often elders talk on the phone about where they have kept their valuables. They should not display expensive objects. This is where offenders get an incentive to plot against them," said Kartika.

Kartika says murders are still happening despite senior citizens registering their servants. "Police should be more sensitised towards to the elderly. Often, when they complain about family abuse, police ask them to sort out differences at their personal level," she added.

The police, however, feel it is usually emotional blackmail and in such cases cannot prod senior citizens to complain against their own kin.

Kamlakar added, "When policemen in plainclothes go to enquire about senior citizens, they are often mistaken for impostors."

Lest we forget

 Shivani Joshi    Friday, Sep 19, 2008, 23:49 IST

The Hindi movie, U Me Aur Hum, brought to light the dark and terrible disease that afflicting an increasing number of senior citizens - Alzheimer's Disease.

The Hindi movie, U Me Aur Hum, brought to light the dark and terrible disease that afflicting an increasing number of senior citizens - Alzheimer's Disease. The movie helped create awareness about the debilitating disease, which affect's a person's memory.

Alzheimer's is a brain disorder that gradually destroys one's ability to reason, remember, imagine, and learn. "Loss of smell as a sense is the first sign of Alzheimer's. People find it difficult to memorise, to remember. Initially, the short-term memory is affected, which if not handled appropriately, damages the long-term memory, also," says Dr Murli Dhara.

The number of people suffering from Dementia is growing in India. Hence, to create awareness on World Alzheimer's Day, the Dignity Foundation launched a campaign in a BEST bus. "My sole objective was to make people conscious of the disease. And taking a round of the city in a BEST bus with an open roof would surely attract attention, and interest. There are around 50 members from our Foundation who have volunteered for this event," says Dhara.

The BEST bus was scheduled to halt at different stops so that volunteers could distribute pamphlets and educate people about Alzheimer's. One of the halts was at the busy Churchgate station, and Dignity Foundation volunteers - old and young - spread the word. The enthusiasm was evident.

Dr Dhara who was part of the drive also devised different memory tests for those members of the public who were interested. "After the tests, we guide people on how to improve one's memory. At the Dignity Foundation Daycare Centre, we have 17 patients suffering from dementia," says Dhara.

The Foundation also has a residential facility that currently houses 25 members. "According to statistics, more than half-a-lakh of Indians are suffering from Alzheimer's. There's little awareness among people," says Dr Sreenivasan, founder and president of the Foundation.

Time for Bangalosenior citizens to chill

 DNA Correspondent    Sunday, Sep 18, 2011, 16:32 IST

After giving their productive years to the society, they feel deprived and unwanted during their sunset years.

After giving their productive years to the society, they feel deprived and unwanted during their sunset years.

But old age does not have to be just about visiting religious places and watching television.

Keeping this in mind, Dignity Foundation, an NGO working with senior citizens, in association with Vision India, another charitable organisation, is conducting Retirement India Expo 2011.

The three-day exhibition was inaugurated at Nimhans Convention Centre on Saturday. This is for the first time that an event of this kind has been organised for the senior citizens. Dignity Foundation has organised similar exhibitions in Chennai, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

During the inauguration, founder of Dignity Foundation, Sheilu Srinivasan, said there were only scarce incidents of investments for senior citizens. Through the exhibition, the foundation was trying to bring various policies and investment plans for the elderly under one roof. The aim of the exercise is enabling the senior citizens plan their future.

Srinivasan said in India, the government needs to step in and introduce a slew of schemes to help senior citizens so that they do not feel neglected or left behind.

For them, life begins at 60

 Surendra Gangan    Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006, 21:43 IST

It was the wedding ceremony of Bipin Bhivankar and Chhaya Rajpurkar, both 60, both members of Chaai Masti Group, a unit of Dignity Foundation.

Life at 60 There was applause, love songs, speeches and glasses of wine. It was the wedding ceremony of Bipin Bhivankar and Chhaya Rajpurkar, both 60, both members of Chaai Masti Group, a unit of Dignity Foundation.
Chhaya Rajpurkar, a widow for the past 10 years and Bipin Bhivankar, who lost his wife a year ago, joined the group a few months back. Bhivankar, a managing partner in a chemical company, was feeling depressed and lonely after his youngest daughter got married in December.
"This is an extraordinary moment for Dignity Foundation," said Dr Shilu Srinivasan, president of the foundation.
"This is a courageous and progressive step taken by the couple. Many elderly people want a companion at some stage of their life, but their relatives and children often don't allow them. Because of this, many couples keep their affairs a secret," she said. Ten years ago, the foundation had tried to convince the relatives of one such couple, but could not succeed, Dr Srinivasan said. A total of 100 members participated in the ceremony.

"We got everything organised the traditional way. We decided to perform all the rituals followed in 'Kshatriya' wedding system. There was everything from the priest to akshatas and mangalashtakas," said Dilip Wagle, a member of the club.

Anarkali Velkar, the co-coordinator from Dignity said, "We wanted to give other members a surprise, which is why we kept the event under wraps. All members have been supportive of this celebration."

Chhaya's family too welcomed her decision. "Her daughter and her granddaughter attended the marriage. But it wasn't easy convincing the Bhivankars," said Ramesh Raote, another member. Bhivankar's daughters and their husbands had opposed the marriage initially. But they were later brought around.

"After my youngest daughter's marriage in December, I was left alone," Bhivankar said. "I knew Chhaya, who used stay near my place. I proposed to her after I met her at Dignity."

Because life begins at sixty

 Friday, Sep 30, 2005, 22:24 IST

Voice of dignity -- Milestones and obstacles: Much needs to be done to ensure the welfare of our elders and to utilise their experience for public good

Voice of dignity -- Milestones and obstacles : Much needs to be done to ensure the welfare of our elders and to utilise their experience for public good

To mark World Elders' Day, the United Nations has called for International Plan for Action on Ageing.

There is tremendous diversity in the situation of older persons, not only between countries but also between individuals,

Individuals now reach an advanced age in greater numbers and in better health.

Scientific research disproves many stereo-types about ageing.

Opportunities must be provided for capable seniors to participate in and contribute to the activities of society.

In India too senior citizens organisations have been observing the Day without government encouragement.

Two years ago Dignity Foundation presented to President APJ Kalam the following suggestions.

That the National Policy of Older Persons of 1999 be adopted by all the state governments, which should make necessary budgetary allocations every year.

Even after retirement, people have another 10-15 years of vibrant energy backed up by maturity and experience, which may be utilised for public good. Organisations such as Dignity Foundation have shown how they can contribute to civic governance, to welfare activities and work during elections. The retired persons should receive some reimbursement of expenses thus incurred.

There should be uniformity in declaring a person 'senior citizen'. Today the age varies from 58 to 65.

Discrimination on the basis of age exists even in public institutions. The Guajarat Ordinance of April 2003 bars 62 plus people from being nominated to the Syndicate of Sardar Patel University.

By 2050 India will be leading all nations in the number of seniors as well as the proportion of aged population to the general. Forward thinking in gerontology is critical to the welfare of the populace. The Social Justice Ministry has to play a key role in this regard. Tips may be taken from European and Far Eastern countries, which have already experienced this.

Intergenerational equity is a theme that deserves national debate if India wants to avoid tensions gripping Far Eastern societies and the West due to one generation imposing hardships on the other.

Economic self-sufficiency is the wellspring of overall health of senior citizens. If every budget improves upon the 2003 budget provisions, there could be a steady movement of economic reforms for this segment. The much-awaited implementation of the OASIS (Old Age Social and Income Security) Report can bring crucial relief.

Social security
Government is obliged to create and cover all citizens under new Social Insurance Schemes (for the employed) and Social Assistance Schemes (for the unemployed, disabled, aged and widowed).

Notwithstanding the pitfalls and failures of social security schemes across the world, where hardly any model is worth emulating, India has to urgently launch an inovative social security scheme for the poorest of the poor senior citizens. The ministries could invite a national debate to get professional ideas on the subject. If people's lives have to be impacted upon they should also have a say in policy making through participation in widely disseminated national level democratic forums.

Recommendations in the policy that do not cause any expenditure to the state governments, such as:

i) 'No waiting' facility in hospitals, government offices, on specified days at specified times.

ii) Special consideration in matters such as expeditious disposal of matters relating to property, pension, local taxes. If the state governments recognise such issues and implementation is initiated, it will also send right signals to hapless senior citizens who lack today support from the fast changing social structure, that is, family, the community at large, and government.

Concessions already announced to the senior citizens should not be withdrawn-for example the state transport bus concession in Maharashtra has been cut down to 33 per cent from the 50 per cent level.

All schools in the country ought to be encouraged to offer their space for the use of senior citizens of the locality, since community togetherness is a vital need of senior citizens. They cannot afford the use of other expensive space.

Legislation for preventing elder abuse and punishment to violators of norms of family care has to receive the attention of legislatures.

NGOs are leaders in initiatives for the welfare of senior citizens. There should be an ordinance to co-opt them in policy formulation, so that their grassroots experiences can inform, enhance and direct policy. The inclusion of NGOs in most government departments is currently ornamental.

This has to give place to meaningful partnership, such as in Maharashtra, where the government has taken the lead in issuing identity cards for senior citizens and is on the verge of announcing a new protection policy for senior citizens' security on the basis of recommendations submitted by Dignity Foundation.

Norms should be formulated for maintaining standards of care in old age homes in the country. A panel of visitors consisting of eminent citizens should be set up by the departments of Social Justice and Empowerment in each state. The panel's frequent visits to old age homes can ensure the quality of amenities and services provided. Both private and state funded homes should fall within its purview.
The Kerala government has taken a lead in evolving innovative policies for the ageing population.

A similar memorandum was presented to the Maharashtra government too.
But there is no response yet from any government.