Elderly not forgotten in Turkey amid pandemic

With millions of senior citizens in Turkey confined to their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Turkish authorities are ensuring their daily needs are met swiftly and help is just a phone call away.

To protect the public from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Interior Ministry has restricted the movement of people older than 65, and mobilized support groups to help them during the self-isolation period.

Senior citizens can contact the police or other groups through dedicated hotlines to convey their needs.

Social assistance groups, made up of officials from the police, gendarmerie, and disaster relief agency, then bring them whatever they need, including food, household goods, or even pension payments.

According to the ministry, to date, the support groups have assisted more than one million people.

'Always available'

Among the millions of elderly people in self-isolation is Osman Kurtulan, 66, a retired salesman who has been living alone for a decade after his wife passed away.

"At first I didn't like the idea of being confined to my house. But I know I have some breathing problems and this virus is more dangerous for people like me, an old man with health problems," he said.

He said the greatest challenge of self-isolation is loneliness, something he has experienced since his wife died and his children moved out.

"You know, my sons would call me every two weeks before this virus. Now that they know I'm stuck at home all alone, they're calling every day. Ironically, this virus has had a positive impact on our relations," he said.

Kurtulan said he was initially worried by the coronavirus outbreak but felt better knowing that the police and healthcare workers were always available...

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