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Often, they just read to the senior citizen, play puzzles or board games, help the client pass time. “We are still coming to terms with a concept as new as this,” admits Subhadra Upadhyay, 88, whose son signed her up with The Family Member in Ahmedabad four months ago.“But we had to be practical, because Bhavesh has his own family to take care of,” she adds.“We get at least three new clients every month and are planning to expand to Pune.” There’s also Samvedna Senior Care, set up in Delhi in 2013, and First Seniors set up in 2008; in Pune, Maya Care was launched in 2009.“We aim to keep seniors independent,” says Pratyusha Pinnali, head of marketing for Maya Care.“We also try and fill in for their children to keep their loneliness at bay.” All volunteers are cleared after police verification; details are sent to the subscriber in advance.At 5 pm, they go for a walk either to the market or to the Dadar beach nearby.Patil then takes her afternoon nap while Ghag finishes college assignments or reads a book from the older woman’s collection.“It works both ways.Patil says she likes that there is somebody as young as Ghag to help her with decision-making. Sometimes I agree, otherwise we take the middle path,” she laughs.
Often, they would have to cancel, or at least one of them stay home with her, she says.
Bhagyalata Das, 72, says the ‘volunteers’ from Samvedna give her something to look forward to.
Here, she and Priyanka Bantwal surf the internet for knitting designs at her Gurgaon home.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)As families go nuclear, paid non-medical care is becoming a reality for many senior citizens in their twilight years in many Indian cities.
Care givers acknowledge that there is really no substitute for family.
“Seniors don’t always understand why their own family can’t be there for them,” says Archana Sharma, founder of Samvedna.‘SHE HELPS KEEP MY LONELINESS AWAY’Eighty-year-old Mumbai resident Chhaya Patil waits for Nutan every afternoon.“She is just like my granddaughter,” says Patil, a retired clerk with the Mumbai Port Trust.
Prices range from Rs 150 for 1.5 hours to Rs 20,000 a month for multiple weekly visits and help with errands.“We’re less than a year old and already have about 25 clients and eight volunteers,” says TFM founder Piyush Vayeda.