he world is undergoing significant demographic changes. Estimates indicate that by 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people. According to UN estimates, the global population of people aged 60 years and older is set to touch about 1.2 billion in 2025 and globally around 4 per cent to 6 per cent of elderly people have experienced some form of maltreatment at home.
In order to encourage communities to recognise the problem of elderly abuse, June 15 is observed as “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day”.
A study shows that elderly people are abused, neglected and explicated which is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens around the world. According to World Health Organization, 4 to 6 per cent of elderly people suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.
Nearly half of all senior citizens are experiencing abuse and ‘mistreatment’ in public spaces. According to the survey, the senior citizen faces abuse in the areas like the actual experience of elders as they interacted with people and service providers; elder perceptions on elder ill-treatment; the general state of mind of elders as they stepped out of their homes; and a wish-list of their expectations from society. 55 per cent believed that the Indian society discriminates against elders.
Today, elders are abused in public/private places – the resultant of living conditions. Under the present scenario, each and everything is being measured by Money Power. The problems of the elderly are primarily economic, marked by the loss of independent incomes. Health-related problems typically dog them too. Lack of safety and security are added perils, especially in urban settings. It was found that 65 per cent of elderly people are poor with no source of known income. 35 per cent have money or properties, savings, investments, inheritance and or supportive children. Irrespective of their financial status most of them face abuse in one form or the other.
It is not only elders even young parents have to face embarrassing situations with their school-going children, whenever child demands money for meeting what schools demands for extracurricular activities. It is a common sight in city buses, the seats “supposed to be” reserved for senior citizens are invariably occupied by others. To steal from elders money from their bank account is the simplest thing by their own children/in-laws/bank staff/hackers. Don’t we feel the shame of ourselves treating our elders like that which is so disgraceful? Generally, we forget that one day, in ageing, we will also face such thing. It’s India, where we learn to respect our elders. But, today, the new generation has forgotten all things.
The government must create awareness about the rights of elderly people, advocacy of old age issues at all level of governance and ensure implementation of policies pertaining to the protection of interests of senior citizens. Senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves financially shall have the right to apply to a maintenance tribunal for an allowance from their children and relatives. We need to give more stress to take concrete action and develop specific measures to address and monitor financial exploitation and material abuse in the context of an ageing society. The right of an elderly citizen to live a life of dignity must be made justifiable. Programmes to enhance skills and knowledge in geriatric care are needed.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)