World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed on June 15 every year, with the intention of raising awareness against one of the brutal manifestations of ageism in our society – elder abuse.
Elder abuse can be seen in various forms such as physical, sexual, social, psychological, financial, and can also include rejection and ill-treatment. The actual extent of elder abuse is not properly known, but the problem is prevalent yet typically underreported. With the outbreak of the virus pandemic and the restrictions that followed, the specific challenges affecting older, including human rights violations, have only increased. Older people are at a higher risk of mortality and are prone to severe illness due to COVID-19. Measures to control the virus spreading has also led to disruptions in critical services unrelated to COVID-19, further endangering the lives of senior citizens.
As people are being advised to sit indoors to control virus spread, even outdoors are in a silent state, elder abuse rocked four walls of domestic dwellings. Around 73 per cent of the elderly population faced increased abuse during the pandemic-induced shutdowns amid the second wave of the pandemic in India, as per a recent survey conducted by the Agewell Foundation. The findings of the survey released ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2021, showed that 82 % of the 5,000 elderly respondents stated that the current pandemic situation has affected their lives in a very adverse manner.
Besides this, the senior citizens are also facing deprivation and abuse due to rapid changes in our society. Digital revolution, industrialization, urbanization and globalization are changing our cultural and traditional values. The nuclear family system has gained traction, more high-rise apartment buildings are being built and day to day activities are going digital. All of this has marginalized older adults and made them vulnerable to abuse.
Senior citizens are facing additional vulnerabilities at this point; therefore safeguarding them is now more vital than ever. We must make sure that they aren’t being abused and exploited. Caring for them is our responsibility. On the auspicious occasion of this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let us commit ourselves to proactively address elder abuse.