RESPECT AND LOVE IS NEEDED AT EVERY AGE!
June 15 is observed as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by The World Health Organisation. One other issue that was faced by people but didn’t get attention was elder abuse, the neglect or ill-treatment of old people by their children or caregivers.
The World Health Organisation defines it 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”. The data is just horrifying; one in six older people worldwide experience some form of abuse. Like every other issue, this is widely prevalent in Indian society and the pandemic just made the situation worse.
The elders are abused in various ways like they are disrespected, silent treatment like not talking to them and ignoring them and their needs, denying proper food or medical treatment, syphoning off their funds, physical and emotional violence and forcing them to work. They are just seen as expendable and are even isolated and shunned as they are more vulnerable to the virus.
The worst part is that they silently suffer this shabby treatment at the hands of their children daily because they fear that the abuse may increase if they’ll speak up.
The example of Shravan Kumar is good only for the scriptures now. A rise in the number of cases where aged parents had to petition the courts can also be seen. But even after they complain, the system takes ages to respond. India has the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 under which children and heirs are legally obliged to provide maintenance to their parents in the form of monthly allowance.
Indian society needs to sensitise the age-related issues and should frame a policy to re-skill older people and start a second career once they retire to sustain their lives themselves.
The elderly should also learn to adapt to the changing times and learn to cope with the challenges of changing times. They should be a little cautious and smart and should not spend all their life savings on their kids’ marriages or blindly hand over all their wealth to their children. They should learn to invest in themselves too so that they can take care of themselves after retirement and do not need to be financially dependent on anyone.
It would shock you to hear that about 73% of elderly experienced increased abuse during lockdown imposed amid 2nd wave of covid.
Older persons need to be educated about support systems, legal provisions and non-formal support network, accessible and available to them. Elderly women are most affected due to their bad financial status, increased level of reliance, and even longer lifespan compared to elderly men. Elder Abuse is a huge problem everywhere in the world. Even the elders are facing a sense of fear, worry and loneliness because of the growing dependency.
While battling health issues, they are also dealing with the loss of loved ones and are thus struggling with mental health too.
It is the need of the hour to build a strong and responsive elder care system. Elder needs must be given the priority, attention and resources it deserves. The major challenge faced by the elderly in their house from other family members in the pandemic was the need for more attention. Just like the elderly living in households, elderly from old age homes also faced isolation and loneliness. Loss of communication with their loved ones was a major concern for the elderly.
If you have older adults in your life, watch out for them, ask questions about their friends, encourage them to ask questions about their friends, encourage them to ask questions if things do not seem quite right. Above all, remind them that they must always take care of themselves first, physically and financially. If it sounds too good to be true- it is.
The future is uncertain, but we should make sure that the elderly do not suffer and at least their basic needs are satisfied and they live the rest of their days with hope and dignity.