Agewell Foundation is committed to reassure, assist and be there for older people always, in all ways
Old age, often, is not a happy phase of life for many seniors. We, as a society, tend to neglect the elderly or are callous about their needs. Himanshu Rath is one of those who has been working with some of these hapless aged persons and trying to restore self-confidence and dignity in their lives.
Over time, he got together a group of professionals, senior bureaucrats, university professors, artists, writers, judges and others who sincerely believed in the same cause, and set up Agewell Foundation. The Foundation seeks to reach out to a larger audience of older persons to act as a catalyst of change in bridging the gap between generations and ensure a life of respect and comfort for old people. Its mission is to initiate steps towards creating senior citizen-friendly environment, advocacy for the needs and rights of senior citizens, extend a helping hand to them wherever required and cultivate a sense of moral and social responsibility towards senior citizens.
Agewell Foundation interacts with older persons and their care-givers at all levels—family, community and State. There is a need for such organised effort, even when seniors are living with their families, says Mr Rath. “People hate loneliness, alienation and marginalisation in old age. That’s why they prefer to keep mum and keep suffering abuse and mistreatment.”
Seniors are reluctant to take any legal action even when they ill-treated. “One of the most common reasons is that old persons fear losing family members’ support. They are afraid that reporting the crime will result in tension and stress in old age, as the abuser may discontinue relations once accused, charged, or convicted,” said Mr Rath.
Today, Agewell Foundation is a large organisation and has a dedicated team of professionals and trained counsellors. It has set up a two-tier network of over 7,500 primary and 80,000 secondary volunteers spread across 640 districts of India and interacts with over 25,000 old persons on a daily basis through its volunteers’ network.
Agewell’s projects include a helpline for older persons, Eklavya-Employment Exchange, research & advocacy centre, family membership (for old people who live alone), Aadhar Nationwide Volunteer Action Network and healthcare centres. It organises medical equipment distribution camps for the destitute and elderly, sensitisation programme for school children, Dharohar Scheme (for safekeeping of Wills), ‘share the warmth’ campaign during winters, police personnel sensitisation & training programmes and runs a handicraft unit.
Agewell Foundation’s work is well-recognised through a network of affiliations and international alliances, including with Global Action on Ageing (GAA) and American Association of Retired People (AARP), both in the United States, and Seniors Together in South Lanarkshire (formerly known as Better Government for Older People–BGOP), United Kingdom. Since 2011, it has been granted special consultative status by ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) at the United Nations.
Mr Rath says that despite their efforts, “we have a long way to go in advocacy for senior citizens and protecting them from abuse and exploitation.” A survey by Agewell Foundation found that, on an average, 25%-30% of India’s elderly population suffers abuse. According to another 2014 study by HelpAge India, 59% of sons emerged as top abusers of senior citizens, contrary to popular belief that they are abused by daughters-in-law.
Agewell Foundation works closely with corporate houses through their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes, as a beneficiary as well as in structuring their programmes. It provides consultancy services for audit, supervision, events and PR (public relations) for CSR initiatives and offers training programmes to communities on dealing with inter-personal issues and sensitise people to seniors’ issues.
Donations to Agewell are eligible tax-exemption under Section 80G of the Income-tax Act. It also welcomes individual volunteers.
M-8A, Lajpat Nagar-II,
New Delhi - 110 024.