Ageing with Dignity A Call to Action Against Elder Abuse @auramag


Elder Abuse Awareness

While the World observes Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15th June, many older adults around the world, even in a society like India’s, continue to face abuse. The abuse of older people, also known as Elder Abuse, “is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes harm to an adult 60 years and older”, as defined by WHO.
In Indian society, we are continuously taught how to respect elders. It is disturbing even to think that someone physically or emotionally tries to harm Senior Citizens. However, recent statistics show that this issue is widespread in India. Many Elders face abuse at the hands of their children.
The rapidly changing socioeconomic status, migration to urban areas, Western influence, growing number of nuclear families, individualism and such factors contribute to Elder Abuse. With the recent rise in nuclear families, elders have become isolated and dependent, leading to power imbalances and increasing the risk of abuse.

The different forms of Elder Abuse are:

  • Physical abuse (hitting, pushing. It can result in bodily injuries, fractures, pain, and other health issues).
  • Emotional abuse (threatening to isolate them or verbally abusing them. These lead to mental health problems).
  • Financial abuse like taking away their income resources and misusing their property)

Even simple negligence, such as caregivers not providing necessities like food, proper medication and hygiene, and lack of safety and security, can also be considered abuse.

Underreporting of abuse is a major challenge in addressing Elder Abuse. Dependence on abusers, fear of isolation, and rationalising abusers’ behaviours also pose barriers. Lack of awareness and understanding of elder abuse among the general public and healthcare professionals are also challenging.

Despite the challenges mentioned above, people’s understanding of raising awareness to tackle this widespread societal issue is increasing. One of the important reasons for this awareness is the International Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day aims to bring together people, organisations and communities to tackle the issue of Elder abuse. The most important aspect of prevention is Education. It involves educating caregivers, family members, healthcare professionals, and older adults about the signs and prevention. In India, NGOs, Community service groups, and other organisations work towards supporting victims and increasing public awareness.

If you suspect someone is in danger, report it to one of these helplines:

  • Senior Citizens National Helpline (Elderline – 14567 in some states)
  • Government of India Toll-Free Number (14567)
  • HelpAge India National Helpline (18001801253)
  • Police Number (100)

Remember that even simple and modest efforts can have an impact on stopping elder abuse.
Be the voice of the voiceless and join organisations that support and assist Elders. As they say, “A society’s true measure is how it treats its elders.” Let’s continue to fight for the rights and respect of senior citizens and strive towards a future where everyone can age in safety, respect, and dignity.


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