HUM-Line: A dedicated helpline for the elders of India.
Are you over 55? Do questions like how do I connect with my grand-children on Instagram or what exercises should I do to keep my blood-pressure under-control cross your mind? Have you ever thought of your financial goals? Do you just need someone to talk to?HUM Communities, which is a social enterprise focusing on the betterment of the lives of senior citizens and retired professionals, has started a helpline just to answer these questions for you. Whether you are exploring post-retirement job opportunities, searching for treatment to cure prolong illness/disease or if you are wanting to voice your concern on a social issue or if you need some counseling. All you have to do is call 06399677774. The seeds of the Help-Line were sown when one of the key findings of their first AIHSS (All India HUM Senior Survey) last year was that almost 70% of elders interviewed indicated that they have trouble accessing information on the go. That’s when HUM’s founders decided that they should launch a help-line where seniors could call in to get the information they needed. The challenge was how to get the information and who would answer the calls. Over the past 6 months, they reached out to senior experts who agreed to give their time to answer such queries of their fellow seniors. The first to enlist was Mr. Mendiratta who retired as a head from Ranbaxy and agreed to offer counseling to seniors who are ailing, one of the co-founders of HUM Kritarth started manning the Technology and Job help-line and they roped in a retired banker to give finance related answers. The calls started growing as a result of word of mouth and soon they were inundated. Going back to the drawing board they thought it would be best to launch this as a free service to the Senior Citizens of the country and this is how on 15th August HUM-Line was born. Loosely quoting Mother Teresa, Ramesh Vij who is the 77-year-old founder of HUM Communities says that-
“The biggest problem for the Elders today is not poverty or disease but the lack of love and charity and the feeling of being unwanted. We at HUM are on a mission to reduce and remove the feeling of not being wanted amongst the elders.”
The helpline which is for the elders and by the elders is now active in the NCR region and has many senior volunteers supporting it and helping elders in resolving their grievance, taking suggestions on matters pertaining to them or sometimes just hearing them out. Mr. Vij’s Idea for a dedicated helpline was based on the fact that for many elders the problems of life begin post-retirement at home. Elder abuse can be in the form of physical abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and neglect & isolation. The biggest challenge with this abuse is that it is usually hidden. A sense of fear that they may be abused more if they speak up leads to elder abuse being hidden. Hence empowering seniors is the most effective tool in the response to elder abuse. A Helpline for seniors enables them to reach out for help and assistance. It is also helpful in information dissemination thus creating awareness amongst senior citizens in a number of matters. Adds Kritarth,” The senior volunteer can book a 1hr time slot per day/ per week under the different categories we have to say healthcare, and he/she will receive calls redirected from our center on their registered number. This will enable people to volunteer from the comfort of their home and do good for the society” When asked about the privacy concern and the possibilities of misuse, Mr. Vij ensures that all the contact details and the personal information of the volunteers will be highly confidential and can/ will only be revealed by the volunteers themselves. HUM communities is in a constant pursuit of creating a pan India network of Elders on various social media forums in order to serve as a one-stop platform for them. Mr. Vij sums up his plunge, “We want the Voice of the Elders to be heard. In the coming years, HUM Communities aspires to be the voice of very Elder in India”
Words of Seniors
“I use Facebook very often and a few days back I saw a photo in my senior citizen family group by Hum communities which said they were helping retired & senior people find jobs. I was very impressed and felt proud after reading more about HUM communities and Mr. Vij. I joined the senior citizen community groups by HUM Communities on Facebook and came to know about HUM-Line. The next day I reached out to HUM and told them about the diet problems, that I face regularly due to diabetes. I had a very awakening interaction with Mr. Vij and he gave very practical tips which I could implement in my daily routine and diet to live in harmony with my medical problems. I feel he is a very humble person and his social enterprise is doing very noble work for the elders in India.” adds Mr. Harish Tandon, retired govt. officer from metrological dept and an ex-mountaineer by passion.
“Soon after my retirement, I started working in a private school in the morning and as a home tutor in the afternoon. All my ex-colleagues are connected with me through the WhatsApp group and in that group, someone shared a message about community groups for elders by HUM Communities. I had not seen such a thing before and hence out of curiosity I pressed the link and became a member within seconds. I was not an active user on Facebook as people post unnecessary things and wrong information on it every day. But since the day I became a HUM member, my Facebook is full of things I liked to read daily, new types of yoga kriya’s, meditation videos and health tips for me! Last week I came across HUM-Line and at that very moment, I decided to reach out to HUM communities as I wanted to know more about yoga kriya’s and how they could help to reduce my daily stress given my age! I had a very pleasant conversation with Ms. Vij and she told me about her experience, how regular yoga practice helped her to handle multiple roles and responsibilities in her day to day life, at her age! I gave all my blessings to HUM and hope they continue helping elders across the nation.” Ms. Veena Bajaj, retired teacher.