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Senior Citizens Living alone in Goa Feeling the Heat of the Lockdown

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Prime Minister Modi had extended the nationwide lockdown till the 3rd May making the life more difficult of some of the most vulnerable sections of the society. The heat of the lockdown is more felt by the senior citizens living alone in Goa. Most of the elderly people live alone in Goa since their children are either living abroad along with their families or moved down to other states due to work.   

According to the sources, there are thousands of senior citizens who are living alone in the state are feeling helpless and dejected since most of them are unable to procure the supplies of essential goods and medicines for themselves.

A report published by the Live Mint stated that Goa has a sizeable number of elderly people who live alone as their children are based abroad. Divar Island, located across the Mandovi river near Panaji, is one such place where several senior citizens have been living alone in their Portuguese-era houses.

The situation becomes severe as the Divar Island is covered with water from all the four sides and the only option to move out of the island is the boat ferry service. But due to the lockdown, those residing on Divar Island are facing severe difficulties to get the essential items.  

The Boat Ferry Service in Divar Island

Mafaldin Almeida, 70, a cancer survivor and mother of three daughters, has been living alone on the island since her husband died six months back. “Two of my daughters live in Goa’s Taleigao and Merces villages while the third one is in Dubai. They cannot reach me due to the lockdown, Almeida told PTI.

Meanwhile, Mrs Almeida is following the guidelines issued by the advisory which says that senior citizens should not move out of their homes as they are most vulnerable. “But I don’t have any help coming in,” she rued. 

Almeida is now worried as her stock of medicines and essentials is exhausting.”No one has come to enquire about me. Nobody is moving out of their houses. How will I get help?” she wondered.    

Another elderly woman residing in Almedia’s neighbourhood said she is facing similar problems. But, she requested anonymity, fearing that she might be targeted for her statements. Both the women say they try to console each other by chatting over the phone.

Another senior citizen, Jerry DSouza, a wheel-chair-bound differently-abled man, who lives on the island with his cancer survivor wife, said he was stuck at home without essential items for days before he approached the Disability Rights Association of Goa president Avelino DSouza, who managed to reach out to him.    

“Efforts should have been made to help those who are more in need,” DSouza said, adding that as of now one of his friends, who is a former local sarpanch, has come forward to him at this crucial time.   

An organisation working to fight discrimination of people on the basis of age said many elderly people are facing a similar situation across the country. With the lockdown in place, a majority of Indians are experiencing isolation for the first time, CHAI Kreative and Return of Million Smiles director Kewal Kapoor said.    

“While people below the age of 60 have jobs and familial responsibilities to keep them busy, senior citizens are struggling to cope up with the uncertainty, anxiety and fear that comes with the isolation, he said.     

Kapoor said many senior citizens “live on fixed pensions with undiagnosed depression:, and the lockdown may end up amplifying their existing problems.”While aggressive isolation is necessary to keep seniors safe from coronavirus, we need to make sure they stay connected and active,” he said.   

Elderly people get along well with children, who can really help the senior citizens stay active and in good spirits during the lockdown, he added.

Source: Live Mint

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