HelpAge India

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HelpAge India voices the concerns of elders to help them live a more dignified life. Established in 1978, its mission is “to work for the cause and care of disadvantaged older persons and to improve their quality of life”. HelpAge advocates for their needs such as, for Universal Pension, quality healthcare, action against Elder Abuse and many more at the national, state and societal level, with the Central and State governments. It runs various Agecare programs to service elder needs. The aim is to serve disadvantaged elders in a holistic manner, enabling them to live active, dignified and healthier lives. [1][2]

History[edit]

HelpAge India began in the late 1960s when the speaker of the Lok Sabha visited his counterpart in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, who was also honorary secretary of Help the Aged. He came back with a vision of setting up something similar in India.

But it took seven years for this vision to take shape. In March 1974, when Jackson Cole, founder of HelpAge International visited India, Samson Daniel, a philanthropist, approached him for financial help to set up a member organisation in Delhi. Cole instead offered to train him to raise funds. After a three-month training course in London, Daniel and his wife returned to India and organised a sponsored walk with schoolchildren in Delhi. It was so successful that in 1975 HelpAge International recruited more staff to cover Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.

HelpAge India is one of the founding members of HelpAge International,[3] a high-profile body having 97 member countries representing the cause of the elderly at the United Nations. It is closely associated with Help the Aged, UK[4] and has received a special testimonial from the United Nations for "Dedicated service in support of the United Nations Programme on Ageing".[5] HelpAge India is also a full member of the International Federation on Ageing.[6]

In April 1978, HelpAge India was registered in Delhi. Within three months it became autonomous as financial support ceased from UK. Soon after, in July, the society was awarded Certificates of Exemption under Sections 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961, thus indicating general confidence in the society’s affairs.[7]

Approach[edit]

HelpAge India works in the following areas:[8]

  • Elderly rights - Elder Abuse in India, Reverse Mortgage, Senior Citizens Associations (SCAs), Ending Isolation, Health Insurance, Parents Maintenance Act, Union Budget Allocation, National Policy on Older Persons
  • Eldercare - Healthcare, Social Protection, Shelters, Specialized Care, Disaster, Mitigation
  • Supporters - Individual Volunteering, Corporates & Business houses, Trusts & Foundations, Bi-Lateral & Multi-Lateral Funders

Programs[edit]

HelpAge India runs various programs servicing the needs of disadvantaged elderly mentioned here below:

Mobile Healthcare Units (MHU): This program seeks to provide sustainable healthcare solutions to elders and their communities. The core of the program is a sponsored Mobile Healthcare Unit (MHU). This Unit provides primary healthcare to the needy elderly, while simultaneously educates the community on preventive healthcare. Each MHU has a doctor, pharmacist and a social worker. There are more than 159 Mobile Healthcare Units working in 24 states, providing 2.9 million free treatments.

Restoration of Vision: In India 62% elderly suffer from cataract blindness. Credible and competent eye hospitals are selected for carrying out surgeries with HelpAge India's support. All surgeries are performed only in base hospitals and not in make-shift camps. Since 1980, this program has benefitted more than 9 lakh elders, restoring their sight & dignity.

Cancer and Palliative Care: Cancer treatment in our country is highly priced and majority of elders are not covered by any form of medical insurance. HelpAge India provides palliative care to end- stage cancer patients, in partnership with a number of credible and competent cancer hospitals and organisations. Over 99,000 treatments have been supported since 1998.

Geriatric Physiotherapy: Under this program, elders with musculoskeletal diseases such as back pain, arthritis, paralysis and other age related mobility challenges are treated. The aim is to enable elder mobility levels and make daily living easier. The services are provided through stationary physiotherapy clinics and mobile services, to elders living in remote communities and homes for the aged.

Support a Gran: There are thousands of destitute elders who have no one to look after their basic needs and require support & help to sustain their day-to-day living. Over the years HelpAge India has enabled more than 30,000 destitute elders, by providing them regular supplies of food rations, clothing, basic healthcare and some pocket money, so they can live a life of dignity.

Elder Helplines: 1800-180-1253: HelpAge runs toll-free Elder Helplines across 21 states in India offering assistance to older persons in need of emergency care and protection. The services offered are - rescue of abandoned elders, counselling those in distress, legal support, information related to services available etc. HelpAge has also launched the 'HelpAge SOS' App to ensure help is just a click away.

Old Age Homes/Day Care Centres: A roof over their heads is the critical need of the destitute elder, sick and often abandoned by family. HelpAge India has established model homes for the aged in places such as Patiala & Gurdaspur in Punjab, Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu and Kolkata in West Bengal. Besides these, HelpAge has also supported over 60 old age homes across India.

Livelihood Support: Elders struggling to survive, especially in rural India, live lonely and impoverished lives. HelpAge organizes them into sustainable Elder-Self-Help-Groups (ESHGs) so they can pool their resources and support each other in times of need. Once the group is formed, the elders choose a viable livelihood activity that can generate income as well. These ESHGs are then federated into higher level community institutions so that they gain additional robustness. This model of HelpAge India has been adopted by the Ministry of Rural Development.

Student Action for Value Education (SAVE) - To address the increasing gap between generations and sensitize the young towards elders, HelpAge works hand-in-hand with schools across the country to inculcate values of care, love and respect towards the elderly, in young students so they grow to become responsible and caring individuals and are sensitive to the needs of the older generation.

Digital Literacy for Elders: The increasing pace of change in technology often excludes elders from the mainstream social fabric. To tackle this, HelpAge has started an easy 'Digital Literacy' program introducing elders to the online world. Partner institutions, organizations and volunteers are encouraged to conduct basic tutorials for elders, using the HelpAge Handbook for senior citizens – Computers and Smart Phones learning made easy.

AdvantAge Card program: This benefit card offers discounts to senior citizens from Retail Associates on various products, services, and facilities ranging from health and wellness to holiday homes. Currently, there are 1.75 lakh members across 400 towns, in 23 states, being offered discounts by more than 8000 retail outlets across India.

Awards & Recognition[edit]

Madan Mohan Sabharwal, former President Emeritus of HelpAge India is a recipient of the Order of the British Empire (1998) and Padma Shri (2008).[9]

HelpAge India's work has been recognized by the following organizations and institutions:

References[edit]