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Deserted view of a market during the lockdown throughout the country to contain the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus in Panaji on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)
Deserted view of a market during the lockdown throughout the country to contain the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus in Panaji on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

Senior citizens living alone in Goa hit hard by lockdown

  • Goa has a sizeable number of elderly people who live alone as their children are based abroad
  • Many elderly people are facing a similar situation across the country

Panaji: The coronavirus lockdown in Goa has left several senior citizens, who live alone, feeling helpless and dejected as many of them are unable to get essential supplies and medicines for themselves.

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 island is water-locked from all sides and accessible only through ferry boat service. During the lockdown, those residing on the Divar Island have been facing severe difficulties to get the essential items.

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.

"The advisory mentions that senior citizens should not move out of their homes as they are most vulnerable, but there is no 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 phone.

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 undiagnoseddepression:, and the lockdown may end up amplifying their existingproblems.

"While aggressiveisolation 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.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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