- Abuse and exploitation of the elderly is a disgraceful
reality of the times we live in
- The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day seeks to bring to
light the dark facts associated with this major human rights violation
- The 2017 theme for the day is "Understand and End Financial Abuse of
Older People: A Human Rights Issue"
of elderly people is one of the most shameful, and disturbing human rights
violation issues of our times, that is prevalent across the world, particularly
in developing nations, and yet is grossly overlooked.
World Health Organization
(WHO) defines elder abuse as "a single or
repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship
where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an
older person."Senior citizens or older adults constitute a relatively
vulnerable section of the society, thereby making them easy targets for
bullying and aggression.
‘The United Nations--initiated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed every year, on 15th June. It is the UNs International Plan of Action to raise awareness on elder abuse as a leading social evil, often relegated to the background.’
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), initiated in 2006 by the International
Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization,
under the aegis of the United Nations, is observed every year on 15th
The day calls upon all member states to
bring to the fore the pervasive, but largely veiled, public health and human
rights issue of abuse, and exploitation, of the aged.
older adult population aged 60 years and older is expected to reach
approximately 1.2 billion in 2025.
The WEAAD seeks to promote recognition, and a better understanding
of elder abuse
neglect. The aim is to provide targeted information, initiate and encourage
interventional strategies, and raise awareness on the interplay of various
socio-cultural, economic and demographic processes in every society, that has
consequences on senior citizens. Caregivers and healthcare professionals,
social service sectors and of course, families, have to be encouraged to
recognize the fundamental right of every citizen, senior or otherwise, to live
an abuse-free, healthy and happy life.
The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017
2017 theme for the WEAAD is "Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights
Financial deprivation and exploitation happens to be one of the foremost forms
of abuse against the aged. Globally, about 5-10% older adults are reported to
fall prey to material exploitation. Yet, financial abuse, like all other forms
of elder abuse, is widely unreported, and hence the official statistics
available could very well just be the tip of the iceberg.
The 2017 WEAAD aims to focus particularly
on the financial hardships that an older adult can be made to go through.
exploitation is defined as, "the illegal or improper use, control over, or
withholding of the property, income, resources, or trust funds of the elderly
person or the vulnerable adult by any person or entity for any person's or
entity's profit or advantage other than for the elder person or the vulnerable
adult's profit or advantage."
saddest aspect of such abuse is that the perpetrator is usually a person or
persons in whom the exploited individual has placed trust; they might be sons,
daughters, close relatives, or caregivers of any form on whom the person is wholly
Recent research has
revealed significant data on financial
abuse of the elderly:
- 1 in 20 older adults report some form of perceived
financial exploitation in the recent past
- About one in 44 cases of financial abuse is reported
- Death rate in exploited seniors is three times more
than that found among un-abused seniors. Elder abuse victims are four
times more likely to end up in a nursing home
- Family members or trusted others constitute 90% abusers
forms of elder abuse and neglect include:
This includes the non-accidental use of
physical force, resulting in bodily harm, physical pain or injury, chronic or
acute illness, functional impairment or death. Violent acts with or without the use of a weapon would include beating,
hitting, biting, choking, suffocation, shoving, pushing, shaking, pinching,
slapping, kicking, stomping, burning. Not only physical assault but the
inappropriate use of drugs, restraints, and confinement would also fall under
This refers to verbal and non-verbal
behaviour causing mental and emotional distress. It includes regular ridicule
and humiliation, intimidation through the use of threats, isolation, control of
the activities of the elderly, and consistent blaming and scapegoating.
Often associated with younger people,
sexual abuse of the elderly is actually more frequent than one likes to
imagine. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual contact with the elderly
without his or her consent. Such contact could involve forced physical sex
acts, unwanted touching or penetration, and other activities such as showing
the person pornographic material, and forcing him or her to undress, and
perform, or watch, sexual acts.
This happens when the health and safety
of the aged person is compromised, due to negligence, or ignorance, on the part
of the caregiver in providing adequate nutrition, essential medical care, shelter,
clothing, hygiene. More than half of the elderly abuse the world over falls
under negligence, intentional or unintentional.
Elder abuse: The Indian Scene
to a 2014 HelpAge India survey, about 50% elders in the country underwent abuse - Bangalore topped the list among
metropolis cities with 75% senior abuse, and New Delhi brought up the rear with
22% abuse. Unfortunately, elderly people often tend to safeguard their
harassers. This is because, as mentioned before, the perpetrators are in most
cases, children and family members of the victim. While sons, along with
daughters-in-law are often the main perpetrators, study reveals an emerging
trend of daughters turning increasingly abusive. Elder
women seniors report an abuse rate of about 53% compared to
48% in elder men.
Indian cities have police-run old-age helplines for the welfare of the elderly.
In 2007, the Indian Parliament passed the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents
and Senior Citizens Act
to ensure the continued maintenance
of the elderly by their children and caregivers. However, very few citizens,
senior or otherwise, are actually aware of the existence of the Act, or the
life span increases with rapid leaps of technology, every country in the world
will have a higher senior population. Yet, society tends to undervalue the
elderly, assuming them to be frail, senile and unproductive. We must, however,
remember, that even as we stereotype our parents and grandparents, it is to
them that we owe our existence in the first place.
is our duty to give the elders in our families, as well as society in general,
a healthy, peaceful life. Let us join hands in making their 'second childhood'
happy! Be gentle, report any signs of abuse in elderly people you might know,
love your elders! Remember, how you treat them today, might decide how you'll
be treated tomorrow.
- World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 15 June - (http://www.un.org/en/events/elderabuse/)
- Elder Abuse: Definitions - (https:www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/definitions.html)