Last month, HelpAge India released some startling news. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, HelpAge India released their findings. More than half (51%) of the elderly in Odisha have experienced abuse by their family members with daughters-in-law and sons emerging as major abusers. Odisha is the 9th largest state by area in India, and the 11th largest by population.
Bihar is a state in northern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size and 3rd largest by population. In Bihar, daughters-in-law have been reported as the main perpetrator of abuse of the elders at home while it is the son who is the main abuser. Also, the study found that 17% faced abuse at the hands of their own daughters. Here are some other key findings:
- Sixty-one of all the interviewed elderly people confessed they were humiliated for minor reasons by family members.
- Thirty-two accepted that they were frequently subjected to verbal abuse at their own house.
- Four of them admitted being assaulted by their own sons and daughters-in-law.
- Twenty said they were frequently subjected to rude behavior and humiliation at their homes.
- The main reason turned out to be the intention to usurp their property, their ill-health and perception of the elderly as burden on family finances.
- Verbal abuse (observed as the main form of abuse) constituted 73% while physical abuse marked 27% and 34% reported disrespect and neglect.
- The main perpetrator was the son in 39% of the cases followed by the daughter-in-law in 35% of the cases reported.
- Seventy-four percent of the elders did not report the abuse they face citing maintaining confidentiality of the family matter as the major reason, followed by lack of confidence in the person or agency.
The disturbing fact that while 97% of the people polled knew about the consequences for abusing the elderly because the new laws in place protecting the elderly, only 32% made attempts to file reports.
HelpAge India has launched the Help Unite Generations (HUG) campaign. The goal is to educate young children and adults on issues relating to the elderly. HelpAge India is hoping to encourage the young to spend time with the elderly, find an elder friend and enrich both their own and the elder’s life.
This is a reminder that elder abuse is a global social and health issue.
As I always mention, please report any incidents of elder abuse to your local authorities. The website for the National Center on Elder Abuse is http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.