To prevent abuse : all for a safe environment for the elderly 

The World Elderly Awareness Abuse Day will be marked on the 15th June following Resolution 66/127of the UN. The theme this year is centered on unifying the paralleled fields of Elder Justice and Violence Against Women by bringing to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe. 

Of late, we have been reading of several cases of violence perpetrated against women in their own ‘homes’ indiscriminately. Old as well as young women have been subjected to domestic violence, mainly. Others have been victims of attempts at chastity in public bus transport while younger ones, school teens, have made serious demonstrations of their capacity to go unruly. 

Elderly victims do suffer from violence which range from psychological to physical. Imagine the level of stress on an old person, be it in a home, be it in his/her home. Imagine the person dying a slow death, not concentrating on activities which bring daily contentment, but on when will be the last day. 

However, there are a few things that society, meaning ourselves at home, professionals, social groups, elderly people’s associations amongst many, can do to change or to improve the living conditions of the elderly. The latter should not be left to suffer silently. 
- Some common forms of abuse: 

  • Forgetting the medication time table 
  • Not ensuring a regular bath 
  • Using abusive language 
  • Abusing the savings 
  • Adopting an ageist attitude 
  • Deprivation of entertainment 
  • Physical violence 
  • Old person being pushed out of his/her home, made to beg 

- A few things we could do in our respective capacity: 

  • Detect the signs of elder abuse and violence and neglect and see how to collectively solve the issue 
  • The elderly is advised to talk to friends and appropriate family members 
  • Prevent isolation, be visible in the home and be prepared to receive visits 
  • NGOs could be proactive by creating events through which to sensitise the public on the issue 
  • Whether at home or in resident care homes, care givers should be allowed breaks by way of local or vacation leaves 
  • Financial institutions, banks, insurances, etc, should detect elderly financial abuse 
  • Competent authorities to provide safe environment for safe movement of those who move with difficulty in particular 
  • Doctors and psychologists could detect signs of violence, physical and psychological 

- Easy to do actions: contact the District Elderly Watch. ( Its members should make themselves known out of an A-4 page).

All institutions, schools, primary, secondary, the academia, professionals corps, previous victims of elder abuse should come up to voice. 

We can all volunteer for a visit in a nursing home. 

It is up to all of us to prevent and address elder abuse. 

By Vijay Naraidoo, President of the Commission for the Rights of Older People of DIS-MOI

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