By DR MURASSA SHAMSHAD
15th June is celebrated as World Elder Abuse Awareness day. It was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 66/127, December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006.
The theme for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 is “Digital Equity for All Ages”.
Adult, children and other family members are the leading abusers of the elderly, according to current studies, demonstrating that violence against the elderly happens mostly at home.
The principal goal of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is to provide our communities around the world with an opportunity to get a better knowledge of the abuse and neglect of older people.
This is a global social issue that not only affects the health of older people but also diminishes their rights.
Elder abuse has been defined as single or repeated acts, 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.
It includes physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse as well as neglect and is notoriously underreported in our culture. It’s a violation of human rights and a significant cause of injury, illness, loss of productivity, isolation and despair.
Confronting and reducing this violence through multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach is required though often difficult to achieve.
Elderly persons have become soft targets for criminal elements.They also become victims of fraudulent dealings and of physical and emotional abuse within the household by family members to force them to part with their ownership rights.
Widow’s rights of inheritance, occupancy and disposal are at times violated by their own children and relatives. It is important that protection is available to older persons.
Abuse in elderly is categorised as:
Physical abuse: The infliction of pain or injury, physical coercion, physical/ chemical restraint.
Psychological/emotional abuse: The infliction of mental anguish
Financial/material abuse: the illegal or improper exploitation and/or use of funds or resources.
Sexual abuse: Non- consensual contact of any kind with an older person.
Neglect: The refusal or failure to fulfil a care taking obligation including/excluding a conscious and intentional attempt to inflict physical or emotional distress on the older person.
The health consequences of elder abuse are serious. Elder abuse can destroy an elderly person’s
quality of life in the forms of:
Declining functional abilities
Increased dependency, sense of helplessness, and stress
Worsening psychological decline
Premature mortality and morbidity
Depression and dementia
The risk of death for elder abuse victims are three times higher than for non-victims.
Prevention of Abuse:
To increase public awareness and knowledge of the issue.
To promote education and training of professionals and paraprofessionals in identification, treatment and prevention
To further advocacy on abused and neglected elders
To study the causes and consequences, prevalence, treatment and prevention of elder abuse and neglect
Until recently life was short, people faced and feared the prospect of death while still performing significant social roles.
But today, due to the prolongation of life-span, more and more men and women live beyond the age of retirement, and the fear of early death is replaced by the fear of agEing and its consequences.
Dr Murassa Shamshad, Geriatric Specialist, Deptt of H&FW, J&K
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.