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#SaveOurSeniors: How Do We Protect Senior Citizens From The Coronavirus Outbreak? Social Workers & Celebrities Discuss

#SaveOurSeniors: How Do We Protect Senior Citizens From The Coronavirus Outbreak? Social Workers & Celebrities Discuss

Senior citizens have been the worst hit in the coronavirus pandemic as they are the most vulnerable, especially those above 80. These elderly citizens are at high risk for the coronavirus and, in some cases, are also fighting isolation, poverty and neglect. In India, there are approximately 16 crore senior citizens (over 60). As India fights the coronavirus outbreak and stays locked down for close to two months now, the elderly are struggling to simply survive. To help them, NDTV and HelpAge India, a non-profit organisation, have joined hands to focus on the lives of senior citizens, who have been the worst hit by the COVID-19. 

As a part of the campaign, a 2-hour special telethon was organised and experts, social workers and celebrities came together to discuss on how India can protect its senior citizens - one who protected us all our lives.

Joining the telethon with NDTV's Dr Prannoy Roy, Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge India discussed how we all can come together and save our senior citizens in this tough time, he said, 


Why have the elders become last and lost? As we grow old, in disaster-like situations which we are facing at the moment, the elderly can't run after relief trucks or stand in queues. So they are last and lost. What they need right now are the ration or food and medicines. Lockdown extension hasn't helped them, they are feeling disconnected, isolated and lonely. They need help and we need to prevent them from hunger. We all need to save our seniors.

Ravi Jaitley, General Secretary, Senior HUB, Dwarka, a senior services agency offering support and referral to older adults added,


Senior citizens need help from the government, civic and local authorities during this time of the pandemic. We all should come together and help them out, they need this support the most.

Joining the #SaveOurSeniors telethon, Sharmila Tagore, Former actress and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador said that she is more than glad that we all are starting a dialogue for the senior citizens. She further said, 


We are saying that the senior citizens are last in the line during the pandemic, but this has been a reality for quite a few years that they are last. In Indian society, we have put elders on centre stage, but lately, the focus is more on youth. The possible reason is that seniors are not perceived as a productive force and therefore are a low priority.

Speaking about the statistics, Sharmila Tagore added,

The number of senior citizens in India, I think is 11 million and is expected to triple in the next 30 years. We are still not paying adequate attention to this. I am glad, we have started this conversation and I hope we will sustain this conversation.

Through a video message, Actor Sonakshi Sinha talked about the special needs of the most vulnerable people in this pandemic - the senior citizens and said, “Back in the day, we would get yelled at for not doing anything, but today we are praised for staying indoor. So, stay indoor so we don't get virus indoor and protect our elderly.” 


Venkatesh Srinivasan, India Assistant Representative, United Nations Population Fund highlighted how the senior citizens are the most affected ones in this time of coronavirus, he said,


It's is an important discussion. Senior citizens need the most attention, especially during times like this. We have a very large population and by 2050, 20 per cent of our population will be 50 plus. Vulnerability faced by old people in the country is concerning. Today, more women than men are living alone. 26 per cent of our population is 60 plus and lives alone.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Sarod player highlighted how in these gloomy times senior citizens need the most attention and said, “I think, India is the only country where we still believe in blessings and offer respect to seniors, touch their feet. Today, the world is disturbed to about coronavirus, but everyone is at home and is utilising the time by spending it with their loved ones. We have all the love for the seniors.” 

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's son Ayaan Ali Bangash, Sarod player reiterating the same thing about spending time with the senior citizens said, “It's an honour for children to spend time with elders. I feel bad when the youth doesn't even look at them. They create beautiful families and then they are ignored. I feel blessed to be with my family.”


Khushbu Sundar, Actress & Producer on how India can come together and help the senior citizens from the pandemic added,


With COVID, there's a stigma attached. We don't understand that senior citizens need emotional help, they can't be isolated. The stigma keeps us away. We don't share comfort and solace with them. We should ensure they are taken care of well.

Karan Johar, Director, Producer & TV personality also joined the #SaveOurSeniors telethon and highlighted that in this time of the global pandemic, we all need to be together as a society and senior citizens especially should be taken care off. He added, 


I'm raised to love my elders, I don't need to give the effort to support them. I don't need a second thought to do it, it's an organic reaction in my DNA. It's my instinct to reach out to seniors who are vulnerable. We all need to be there for our community amid the pandemic. This is going to impact us in many ways but you can't make this about yourself, there is a larger picture, about the community. We need to understand that millions of lives are severely impacted.

 The elderly are struggling to simply survive in this lockdown period, we all need to understand this, highlighting this point Actor Kartik Aaryan said, 

In India, if we talk about elders or seniors, we have seen that COVID-19 affects people with low immunity the most. We need to take care of our elders right now.

Highlighting how Kartik Aaryan is protecting senior citizens at his home, he added,

I don't let my parents go out. We are in a country where there so much young generation. We live with them and take care of them, amid COVID-19, it's more important.


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Key Objectives

  1. Raise funds to help needy and disadvantaged elders
  2. Provide them with much-needed Ration and Medicines
  3. Address elder needs through the HelpAge Helpline (1800-180-1253)
  4. Showcase the physical and mental impact on elders during the disaster
  5. Highlight the importance of inter-generational bonding, the message being: Social Distance does not mean Social disconnect