Many of us do not realize that elder abuse is not just a problem in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, (WHO), it is now a global health crisis and as well as a human rights violation. This is a result of economic, cultural and societal changes.
The WHO has found that when there is erosion of the bonds between generations of a family, elder abuse can more easily occur. It also noted that changes in the basic support networks for seniors have left many without people they feel they can trust to reveal the shame and anguish of elder abuse.
One culture that has seen a rise in elder abuse is the Asian Culture. For many years, people in the Americas and Europe praised the Asian culture for honoring their older adults. Sadly, this has changed for many in the Asian Culture.
For example, China has seen a major change in the family structure in recent years. In traditional Chinese society, the elderly used to live with one of their children. But nowadays, more and more young adults are moving out, leaving their elderly parents alone. Because the structural change, the elderly have to figure out how to arrange their late years when their families can’t take care of them. A recent survey had shown that about 23% of China’s seniors over the age of 65 live by themselves.
In the Asian community in Winnipeg, Canada, there are campaigns regarding elder abuse awareness in the Filipino community. The United States and Canada has seen an increase in elder abuse in the Asian communities. The biggest hurdle for those seniors is the language barrier.
In the Philippines, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly Inc. (COSE) has working been diligently to protect those victims of elder abuse. Japan, in recent years, has seen more cases of elder abuse. In South Asia, elder abuse is hard to detect as a result of the expectations of parents to serve as:
- baby sitters
There have been recent reports coming out of South Asia of kids getting their parents to sell all their land back in their home country and taking all the money away from them. Also, there has been reports of parents left on the balconies for the day in minus 30 weather conditions.
In the next weeks, I will discuss the problem of elder abuse in Africa, Europe, Latin America and Australia. It is important for all of us to understand that awareness and reporting will improve and in many cases, save the lives of older adults.
I, as always, encourage everyone to report incidents of elder abuse to the local authorities. The website for the National Center on Elder Abuse is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them.