Elder Abuse an Obstacle to Healthy Ageing

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    Nidhi Mishra
    January 15, 2017 at 8:34 pm #25716

    Elder abuse is not only hazardous for the physical, social and psychological well-being of senior citizens but is acting as a termite which is going to eat away all our cultural values if not controlled on time. The best way to eradicate it from our society is through inter-generational solidarity i.e. by strengthening our relation with our elders and youngsters in our family and society. Especially family, as most of the cases of elder abuse are reported in families due to inter-generational discords. This is the first step towards making our society generation friendly and free from elder abuse.

    The type of elder abuse in family often ranges from verbal to extreme physical and mental torture. Whenever I come across such cases, I ask myself, that are we really living in a civilized culture or are we moving towards a barbarous culture where some people are forcing their fragile parents to lead a life worse than an animal by either locking them in a room, or putting them in a cage or chaining them. Let’s ask to ourself, are we really progressing? Is the cost of living has gone so high that some people can’t afford to provide things of basic necessities to their parents at home, and so are either abandoning them or are abusing them. It has also been found that sometimes faulty child rearing practices results in abuse of those parents by their children, but such cases are comparatively less and are not an excuse for engagement of children in elder abuse.

    Apart from abuse in family, some senior citizens faces various other types of abuses as well, which may include harassment at the institution (old age homes, care centers) where they stay after leaving their homes or ill-treatment by some people in society, who could be neighbours, landlords and sometimes youngsters in the society. At times severe form of such abuses results in crime against elderly.

    Though government has taken a strong step towards prevention of elder abuse by passing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act in 2007, but still many senior citizens, suffering from elder abuse are not using it due to several reasons, which may include some issues related to its implementation, lack of awareness about this Act among senior citizens and a major reason because of which most of the elder abuse cases are found to be unreported is the decision by the victim to not report such abuses in society as according to them it is going to bring bad names to their family. It is such a pity that often the family members, who indulge in abuse of the elders, are prevented by the same person for the sake of family’s respect at the stake of their own well-being. So, in such cases, even the police department can’t do much as the victim is not willing to lodge complaint.

    Apart from the laws and policies passed by government, towards protection of senior citizens from abuse and crime. There is a dire need to sensitize the society towards the evils of elder abuse and also to create awareness among the senior citizens towards the step which could be taken by them to prevent elder abuse, including use of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act. This work should be taken up on priority basis by civil society organizations, working for senior citizens in association with police departments. In places like Mumbai, police department is really doing a great job by doing home visits for senior citizens, especially for those who stay alone as they are more prone to abuse and crime.

    Let us all work towards removing this problem from our society. So, are you pledging for it?

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