As the UN World Elder Abuse Day is around, Agewell Foundation had been conducting consultations in 323 districts across India to understand the cause and effect of Elder Abuse in Indian homes.
An interaction was done with over 3400 old people which established that majority of them face elder abuse all the time throughout their old age irrespective of their conditions and roles in family.
With significant increase in elderly population, it has been noticed that Elder Abuse has become rampant and majority of older people have resigned to their circumstances.
They are compelled to surrender and adjust themselves to the adverse circumstances.
The vulnerability of older persons to anti-social elements are due to their physical weakness, fragile health conditions and loneliness.
The dependence on family members and relatives makes an older person more vulnerable to abuse.
Rampant elder abuse also accounts on the lack of awareness about the rights in old age.
Older women were found to be more prone to suffer elder abuse due to various factors like their higher level of patience and tolerance.
Savitri Devi, a 71-year-old widow relying on her son and daughter-in-law to provide meals & medicines finds it difficult to protest when her daughter-in-law orders her to wash clothes and utensils.
She is threatened with denial of meal & medicines at times by her family members if she protests.
Her daughter-in-law’s aggression keeps her in line and often she is kept locked inside the house, all alone for long hours.
Lakhan Singh, a 68-year-old retired person is forced to hand over his entire pension to the grandson.
His grandson threatens to stop treatment of his grandmother, a diabetic patient, if Lakhan Singh denies him money.
To meet his and ailing wife’s daily needs he sells plastic goods at roadside and lives in miserable conditions.
His son runs small business and ignores his parents’ problems.
Older persons are also vulnerable to anti-social elements due to their physical weakness, fragile health condition and loneliness.
One of the most common reasons for rampant elder abuse is the old person’s fear of losing family members or support.
He/she fears that reporting the crime will result in tension and stress in old age, as the abuser may discontinue relations once accused, charged, or convicted. People hate loneliness, alienation and marginalization in old age.
That’s why they prefer to keep mum and keep suffering abuse and mistreatment.
Majority of older persons rely completely on their family members or other relatives to help them.
Whether it is for physical or emotional needs, as people grow older they tend to need increasingly more help from others.
Even old people living alone also need help from their relatives/neighbors/friends/caregivers.
This dependence on family members / relatives and care-givers makes an older person more vulnerable to abuse.
By Sarthak Kathayat (An Intern at FE.com)