Stop Elder Abuse! Protect Senior Citizens

Believe it or not, elder abuse is common and rampant in India. For a country that tom toms “respect for elders” as a tradition, this is a shameful, yet true fact as revealed by a report published in 2018. The facts published therein are, but the tip of the iceberg. Only a handful of the cases of elder abuse ever get reported and those that are reported are mostly related to physical violence.

Did you really think physical violence is the only form of senior abuse that occur around us? Look carefully around, and you’ll find other forms of abuse in plain sight.

Other forms of abuse:

  • Disrespect/insult
  • Verbal abuse
  • Neglect
  • Confinement
  • Isolation
  • Money demands
  • Fraud (Financial/Healthcare)

Despite laws against senior abuse, weak, feeble, dependent old men and women are simply not capable of taking their woes to the authorities or seeking help. For, the abusers are often none other than their own kith and kin.

Here you can take a look at the provisions of the Law.

Usual abusers:

  • Son/daughter
  • Son-in-law/daughter-in-law
  • Grandchildren
  • Caregivers/nurses/ayahs

Usually, elderly dependants do not even seek help for fear of being separated from their homes and loved ones. And so, many hapless senior citizens around us suffer silently.

Consequences of elder abuse

Abuse of elderly persons can have serious consequences, both for the abuser and the abused. The abused may suffer from physical injuries, psychological trauma, depression, and aggravation of the pre-existing disease, often resulting in premature death. The abuser, if a close family member, is likely to suffer from psychological effects of guilt and remorse in case of the untimely death of the elder abused.

What you can do to prevent elder abuse

The WHO report on elder abuse in India suggests that the youth of the country are ready to help prevent elder abuse. However, helping does not mean hunting down the so-called abusers and getting them punished.

Understand that caregivers are often stressed, emotionally and psychologically, and that the elderly dependants can also be abusive and/or demanding. Some demented elders are also known to be violent/aggressive. Such patients need expert handling and care so that they do not end up being abused unwittingly by the harassed caregiver.

So here are a few things you can do to prevent elder abuse in our society:

  1. Take a good look at your own attitude and behavior towards elders in your own family/extended family.
  2. Pay close attention to the behavior of your family members and neighbors towards senior citizens and sensitize them about senior abuse and its consequences, both emotional and legal.
  3. Sensitize children about senior abuse.
  4. Seek professional help in caregiving if the elderly person is difficult to deal with.
  5. Report incidence to the local police helpline

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

The United Nations has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Take advantage of this occasion to learn about the help available in your region and to spread awareness about elder abuse in schools, neighborhoods, offices, and other organizations.