World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: Theme of World Elder Abuse Awareness, Significance, Types, Way to Help Elders

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: 15 June is observed as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to increase the visibility of the elderly who face the violence of different kinds, due to their vulnerable state. Most countries are expected to witness a marked growth in the concentration of older people by the year 2030. This makes it important to speak of the conditions of the demographic as instances of abuse are bound to increase. This article will help to understand the meaning of elderly abuse, where it is common, who does it, various types of elderly abuse, how to protect the elderly.

Updated: Jun 09, 2020 17:50 IST

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: Theme of World Elder Abuse Awareness, Significance, Types, Way to Help Elders

Suganya Vedham

What is Elder abuse?

 Abuse of the elderly consists of physical, emotional, or sexual harm that is inflicted upon an older adult. It also includes exploiting their finances, or neglecting their welfare, especially by people who are responsible for their care. more than half a million cases are reported in the US alone each year. Most instances of elderly abuse are not reported, indicating that the actual number might be much bigger.

Older adults become less capable of taking care of themselves as they are physically frail. This makes it less likely that they will resist being bullied, or fight back when physically attacked. Physical and mental ailments can make them more difficult to live with. They may have reduced abilities to see, hearing, or thinking clearly which makes them susceptible to being taken advantage of. The abusers are often adult children or other family members, and most cases are reported in at-home settings. Elder abuse can also occur in institutions that are set up to provide long-term care for senior citizens.

What is the History World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) falls each year on 15 June. The day was officially instituted by the United Nations General Assembly when it passed the resolution 66/127 in December 2011. This was done in accordance with a request made by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). 

INPEA was the organization that first devoted the day to Elder Abuse Awareness in the month of June 2006. It was felt that it was necessary to have one day in the year that could give an opportunity for people all over the world to collectively raise their voices against the abuse of the elderly, which is a less acknowledged social evil. 

What is the Significance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) went on to declare June 15 as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The purpose of the day is so that the whole world can come together to voice its opposition against the abuse and suffering that is experienced by the people who are at an advanced age.

Elder abuse is a global social issue that detrimentally affects the health and basic human rights of millions of older persons worldwide, and it is an issue which deserves more attention from the international community as it is a problem that it is present in all parts of the world and hence needs to be addressed seriously.

What are the types of Elder abuse?

Abuse of elders takes many different forms as the elderly are incapable of resisting most instances of intimidation, threatening, or physical attack. The most common are of these types are:

  1. Physical elder abuse – The use of force that leads to physical pain or injury. This includes not only physical assaults such as hitting but also the wrong use of drugs or restraints.

  2. Emotional elder abuse – Causing emotional or psychological distress, including, threatening, intimidation through yelling, humiliation, Habitual blaming, ignoring the elderly person are considered emotional abuse. Forced isolation of the person from friends or daily life is also an example of such kind of abuse.

  3. Sexual elder abuse –  This type of abuse consists of involving an elderly person in sexual contact without consent. These may involve physical sex acts, and also things like the person to watch pornography, or forcing them to undress.

  4. Elder neglect – This when a person fails to fulfill the responsibility of taking care of an older person. Most reported cases of elder abuse are of this nature. It may be intentional or unintentional.

  5. Financial exploitation – This involves using the elderly person’s wealth or possessions, without their knowledge, consent or imposing it upon them.

These instances may consist of:

  •  Misusing an elder’s bank cards, or accounts

  • Stealing money or household items

  • Forging their signature

  • Identity theft

  • Healthcare fraud and abuse – This is when unethical doctors, nurses, hospital staff or other healthcare representatives take unfair advantage of the elderly by:

    • Charging for service that was not provided

    • Overcharging or billing them twice without them knowing

    • Obtaining undue financial gain by  prescribing certain medicines

    • Overmedicating or under medicating

    • Giving wrong medical advice

How can we stop elder abuse?

If you are an elder who is facing abuse, it is essential that you tell at least one person. It can be someone you trust like your doctor, a friend, or a family member. If you happened to witness an older adult being abused or neglected, you should immediately report the situation. Continue to call and report incidents if you see them in the future. It is possible that abuse cases go unnoticed for a long time as older adults become increasingly isolated from society.

A lot of senior citizens do not report abuse, even if they’re able to. They may fear retaliation from the abuser or are concerned that they will be left without a caretaker or home if the incident is reported. Therefore it is necessary to report such events when one comes across them. It is helpful to monitor the elderly’s finances for protecting against exploitation or checking on them to look for signs of abuse and building a bond of trust so that they feel free to confide in you. 

Key Facts to remember about Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a growing issue that is prevalent in both developing and developed countries. However, a large part of it is underreported all over the world. Even if the true extent of abuse of senior persons is unknown, the moral and social implications are obvious From the perspective of society, government,  healthcare, and social welfare sectors must be equipped to tackle the problem. Otherwise, elder abuse will continue to grow and be overlooked.

Here are some  Key Facts that will reiterate the gravity of the issue:

  • Around 1 out of  6 older people have experienced some form of abuse.

  • Rates of abuse are probably higher for people living in old age institutions than those living with their communities.

  • Prolonged abuse can lead to grave physical injuries and long-term psychological effects.

  • Elder abuse is expected to rise as many countries are witnessing populations getting older rapidly.

  • The worldwide population of people aged 60 years and more will more than double to about 2 billion by the year 2050.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Special Quotes

“Avoid, Abhor And Annihilate Elder Abuse”

“Make Sure They Don’t Feel They Are Burden”

“Don’t Abuse Elders; You Will Be An Elder Soon”

“Elder Abuse Is A Sin – Don’t Be An Irredeemable Sinner”

“Civilized Societies Have Zero Tolerance For Elder Abuse.”

“Indian Tradition Respects Elders – Help Continue This Tradition”

“Being Kind To Elders Is Not A Sign Of Weakness; Shun Elder Abuse”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020 - FAQ

1. What are the signs of elder abuse?

Some signs to look out for are bruises, cuts, or broken bones, arising from physical abuse. There may also be weight loss, poor hygiene, mysterious transactions or loss of money, anxiety, depression, or confusion, and withdrawal.

2. What is the most common mistreatment of the elderly?

Neglect is reported as the most common type of elderly abuse. Other common kinds of abuse are emotional and physical abuse. Elders are seemingly more ready to self-report financial exploitation than other kinds of abuse.

3. What is the most common reason for not reporting abuse of the elderly?

Most elders do not report abuse as they fear the Loss Of Independence This is especially true of elders who live alone and have a visiting caretaker. They fear that they will be forced into a residential facility.

4. Who commits the most elderly abuse?

Family members were reported to be the common perpetrators of abuse of the elderly, followed by friends or neighbors. Home care aides also mistreat the elderly, although the instance is lesser than that committed by people known to the elder person.

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