‘Over 70 lakh Indian senior citizens abused last year’

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New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) Young India’s population of senior citizens is also rapidly rising – and so is the number of cases of abuse inflicted on them mostly by people from whom there is an expectation of trust. Last year, around six per cent of India’s elderly population, or over 70 lakh people, faced abuse, the IMA said on Friday.

“As per the reports of WHO, more than 12 crore people in India are above the age of 60 years and around 6 per cent of this population is a victim of some kind of elder abuse and many such incidences still goes unreported,” Indian Medical Association (IMA) said in a note on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, observed on June 15.

“This concern is not only restricted to India or developing countries but various researches have shown that the elderly violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation is one of the major issues faced by senior citizens globally,” said D.R. Rai, National Coordinator, Elderly Abuse Campaign.

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Highlighting the hidden but alarmingly common phenomenon, the World Health Organization (WHO), in a series of tweets on Friday, sought to explain what constitutes elder abuse, how common it is and how devastating it can be.

“Elder abuse is a hidden problem. Around one in six people, aged 60 years and older, experienced some form of abuse in community settings in 2017. This number may even be higher because older people are often afraid to report cases of abuse to family, friends or to the authorities.

“Elder abuse is more common than people realize. It can happen in their own homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes or other kinds of long-term care facilities. At home, 90 per cent of all abusers are family members. Most abusers are adult children, spouses and partners,” WHO said.

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The abuse of old people can take the form of physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and neglect or abandonment. It can be a single or repeated act. People who commit elder abuse are often someone an older person trusts.

“All types of elder abuse can have an impact on the health and well-being of the older person including injuries, lasting disabilities, worsened health conditions, loneliness, anxiety, and loss of dignity, trust and hope,” it said and added a study revealed abuse victims die early.

On Friday, the IMA held a seminar, in collaboration with Anugraha Foundation, to create awareness about the growing incidences of abuse on elders with about 400 elderly persons from the foundation in the audience.

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The idea was to bring together senior citizens, caregivers, government and private players for understanding the challenges and exchanging ideas to reduce any kind of violence against elders, be it — physical, mental, financial or emotional.

“Also, we would like to sensitize the senior citizens about their legal rights for their self protection against such abuse,” said IMA President Ravi Wankhedkar.

Launch of elderly abuse helpline and elderly mental health clinics will certainly curb down such instances, he said.

According to the UN, the elderly population is likely to rise in all countries but more rapidly in the developing countries. The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050, it said on its website.

–IANS

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