Elder Abuse At Home

Being harassed by their children for their deposits and property; Their signatures being faked to take loans against the properties. Children refusing to take elderly parents to the doctor for treatment; not getting their food or medication on time; rude language and behaviour; threats to throw them out on the streets if they complain.

From Indiatogether.org (highlights)

Elder abuse is on the rise in India even as most senior citizens remain unaware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 and redressal mechanisms. Reshmi Chakraborty and Nidhi Chawla took a look at findings from a recent survey and spoke to elder helpline counselors to find a bleak picture.

17 July 2015 –
With life expectancy increasing steadily, more and more people are living longer. And with this has come a number of new risks and challenges. Being harassed by their children for their deposits and property; Their signatures being faked to take loans against the properties. Children refusing to take elderly parents to the doctor for treatment; not getting their food or medication on time; rude language and behaviour; threats to throw them out on the streets if they complain.

These are some of the types of elder abuse, say those working to prevent it. Given our cultural conditioning, it is expected that children, especially the sons, would take care of parents in their old age. However, surveys and workshops by organisations working with elders like HelpAge India, Nightingale’s Medical Trust (NMT), Bangalore show several instances of elder abuse where the immediate family is the main perpetrator. ‘The sons, along with the daughters-in-law are increasingly turning abusers. Surprisingly there is an emerging trend of the daughters also turning abusive,’ says a 2014 study, Elder Abuse in India.

Elder abuse can be prevented or at least reported with a little awareness, which, sadly enough, is yet to come.

Senior citizens in the country can avoid ill-treatment or abuse at the hands of their family under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007.  …

What is abuse?

The World Health Organization defines elder abuse 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.” According to WHO, elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.

As the Helpage survey states, most elderly associate elder abuse with disrespect, verbal abuse and neglect. Verbal abuse ranked the highest in the survey, followed by neglect and disrespect. The HelpAge 2014 survey also showed that 50% of seniors experience abuse. Of the top metros, Delhi had the lowest percentage of abuse (22%) and Bangalore had the highest (75%) of elder abuse.

Most cities across India have helplines run by the police to help elders, often in association with eldercare NGOs. However, while many are aware of these Police Helplines, very few people approach them, fearing social stigma and isolation. …

Staying Aware

The simple fact that many elders safeguard their children often leads to lesser cases being reported or resolved. Many elders feel it is their fate that they are being harassed by their own children and would rather tolerate it painfully than bring them to book. …

There are also cases where the elderly have been forced by their children to gift away the property to their children. Under the Maintenance Act, the tribunals give the option to challenge the gift deed if the elder was forced or was not of sound mind but the process remains a laborious and difficult one, says a counsellor who often comes across such cases in her work with the Elders Helpline.

Most people seem to be aware that elder abuse exists, though few are willing to do anything about it. The HelpAge Survey conducted this year, focused on the younger generation and their perception and awareness of elder abuse. Seventy three per cent of Indian youth (25-45 years) admitted that elder abuse existed. Shockingly enough, most of them were unwilling to do anything about it. In Delhi, 92 per cent of youth were not willing to act when they came across an instance of abuse.

“What is surprising is that the youth of today are aware of the problem, they understand the reasons which precipitate abuse. They have clear solutions on how to avert abuse, but yet seem unwilling to act. Take the case of Delhi, where 85 per cent of the youth admit elder abuse exists yet 92 per cent say that they won’t act to prevent it,” says Manjira Khurana, Country Head, Advocacy & Communications, HelpAge India.

Measures to prevent abuse

… Elders suffer physical, emotional, and financial abuse in silence as ill-treatment and abuse occurs mostly within the family.

Gerontologist Dr Indira Jai Prakash says that elder abuse is still a hidden problem and both victims and people who would like to help victims find it difficult to define it adequately. While legal sanctions are necessary, there is also need to sensitize people about this issue. …

Helplines Across India (Run by Dignity Foundation, HelpAge India, Nightingales Medical Trust and other NGOs in association with the city police)

  • Ahmedabad:1800-180-1253
  • Gujarat Police Helpline 1096
  • Bangalore:1090 (Banglore City Police & Nightingale Medical Trust)
  • Dignity Foundation: 080 4151 1307/4166 1122, 1076
  • Chandigarh Senior Citizen Helpline 1090
  • Chennai Senior Citizen Helpline 1253
  • Helpage India:044 2621 3908, 3850
  • TN Senior Citizens’ Association: 044 4213 3002
  • Delhi Dada Dadi Help Foundation: 9212717171 | 9212050505 | 26260777
  • Delhi Senior Citizen Helpline : 1291
  • Delhi Police: 1091
  • Delhi Police Senior Citizens Cell: 011-23490010/ 4336
  • Hyderabad Senior Citizen Helpline: 0901 047 0724
  • Indore Senior Citizen Helpline 0731 251 0308, 252 2111
  • Kolkata Senior Citizen Helpline 98300 88884
  • Pranam: 033 2419 0740
  • Mumbai Senior Citizen Helpline 1298/1090
  • Dignity Foundation Helpline: 022- 61381111
  • Nagpur Silvers club helpline: 91 9371276575, 9503439201
  • Pune Senior Citizen Helpline: 1091/020 – 30439100

 

Read the full article at Indiatogether.org

 

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