October 1 is the International Day of the Elderly.
According to HelpAge India, 31% of elderly people reported facing abuse in one form or another.
- 31% reported facing abuse
- Elderly women more abused than men
- Most elderly unlikely to report abuse to authorities to maintain family honour
- Bhopal and Guwhati worst cities for the old
On the eve of “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) “HelpAge India, a charity working for the country’s elderly, revealed some startling facts through its nationwide report on “Elder Abuse in India” with a sharp focus on the role of family. The report was released by Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Mr. Tejendra Khanna today at the India International Centre. Special guest, Mr. Amulya Patnaik, Special Commissioner of Police, Law & Order (Delhi) also gave some relevant insights on the issue.
The report spanned 20 cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Patna, Chandigarh, Panaji, Ahmedabad, Shimla, Jammu, Kochi, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Puducherry, Jaipur, Chennai, Dehradun, & Lucknow. 5600 elders across India were interviewed with 280 per location (of which 5400 responses were found valid).
31% reported facing abuse
31% of older persons nationwide reported facing abuse; surprisingly 75% of those who faced abuse lived with family and 69% were owners of the house in which they were living.
The abuse came from the most trusted of sources, with the primary abuser being the son in 56% cases, followed by the daughter-in-law with 23% cases. 24% of those abused faced it almost daily.
Elderly women more abused than men
More, elderly women as compared to men faced abuse and those 80 years and above in proportion to the young and old. More than 50% of those abused, had faced this situation for more than 5 years. 33% faced it for up to 3 years and less than 1 % faced it for more than 6 years. 44% of the elderly abused, identified disrespect as the common form of abuse, followed by neglect 30% and verbal abuse 26. 45% of those abused, reported it. Out of the 55% who did not report it, 80% stated the reason was maintaining family honour which was of foremost importance to them.
Keep it in the family
Out of those who did report it, 49% said ‘a family member’ as their first choice to report the matter to, followed by 30% who selected a relative and 21% who preferred a member of extended family. It is interesting to note, that no other methods were taken into account (helplines, authorities, NGOs, etc.). Police Helplines were known to a majority of those abused (45%) but were never used, probably due to lack of trust or to maintain family honour.
For the elderly the solution to tackle the problem of abuse, also lay within the family, with 62% older persons suggesting the most effective way to tackle Elder Abuse was sensitization of children and strengthening of intergenerational bonding and 38% stating it to be economic independence. Delhi NCR witnessed a rise in abuse from last year, with 29.82% eldery stating they faced abuse, as against 12% the year before. Mumbai (Maharashtra) followed a close second to Delhi NCR with 29.46 %. While in Chennai 27.56% elderly faced abuse.
Bhopal and Guwhati worst cities for the old
- Bhopal (MP) ranked the highest in Elder Abuse with 77.12% elders stating they faced abuse, followed closely by Guwahati (Assam) with 60.55% and Lucknow (UP) with 52%. While Jaipur (Rajasthan) reported a miniscule 1.67% cases of Elder Abuse
- Other than Bhubaneswar (Odisha) with 23.31%, Eastern India on an overall basis had high percentage of Elder Abuse with Guwahati (Assam) – 60.55% & Kolkata (WB) -40.93%.
- 11% of older women and 6% older men did not have any knowledge about the currently available reporting and redress mechanisms. None of the respondents knew about all the available mechanisms.
- 80% respondents who observed actual abuse in their surroundings, identified lack of adjustment as the most important reason for Elder Abuse and 20% identified economic dependence of the abused as the reason for Elder Abuse.
Based on the Findings, HelpAge India strongly recommended the following actions be taken to prevent Elder Abuse:
Nationwide programmes to be organized in schools & colleges for sensitizing the children & youth towards ageing and aged. HelpAge has been working towards this through its Student Action for Value Education (SAVE) Programme which aims at Inculcating values of care & respect for the elderly in school going children, Prepares today’s children & youth for their old age and creating an age friendly society. Secondly, a robust social security system that not only ensures income security for the elderly, but also gives them opportunities for income generation.
Interestingly this year’s World Health Day theme was ‘Healthy Ageing‘. Thanks to advances in medicine and better living conditions that average lifespan has shot up. In the next few years, for the first time, there will be more people in the world aged over 60 than children aged less than five. That’s why there is a need to address the issues so the elderly can live a happy, fruitful and fulfilling life.
Content Source: HelpAge India