When Statistics said one in every four elders has claimed to be abused, I say to myself “that can’t be true!” and begin to picture the elders that I know. I search for signs of elder abuse and to my utter disbelief, I realise that the numbers were right! A lot of elders I personally know, face abuse. My heart goes out to them. But I do know, I deserve part of the blame, having been a silent witness not once or not twice but many many times.

As my guilty self racked my brains and the internet for justification, I found that I am not alone as a mute observer. It is very important to call out ‘elder abuse’ when you come across signs of abuse. You see, similar to racism and sexism it is no longer socially acceptable and when you call ‘abuse’ it is a great deterrent. I write this article in hope that it will reach and empower people like me who, unable to identify abuse, are guilty of having been silent witnesses to these crimes.

We will and can call out ‘elder abuse’ if we are clear on what amounts to elder abuse?

“Elder abuse is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.

Wikipedia & WHO

I read the definition a couple of times to let it sink in, the magnitude of our responsibility in which we can seek pride is strangely comforting. Tell me what you think in the comment section below? I definitely believe that to be able to give back to the people who were once caretakers themselves is an opportunity to reclaim our humanity and know one’s true self better.

Moving deeper to understand more about this plague in our human world, let us look at the different types of elder abuse from the perspectives of elders in India.

As per the report by HelpAge India (linked at the bottom), these are the types of abuse that elders themselves recognise:

  1. Disrespect
  2. Beating/ Slapping
  3. Verbally Abusing
  4. Economic Exploitation
  5. Unwelcome or forcible Sexual Contact and
  6. Neglect

The critical kinds of documented elder abuse are:

  1. Physical Elder abuse
  2. Financial Elder abuse
  3. Socio-emotional Elder abuse
  4. Unreported Elder abuse

I will get into the details and expand this blog as I learn more about elder abuse. Being a company that caters to the needs of elders and caregivers it is our absolute responsibility to do so.

The excerpts from conversations with abused elders that are mentioned in HelpAge India’s report makes my heart clench. It is a growing problem and the report also studies the effects of the internet and social media on elder abuse. Helpage India plays a monumental role in fighting for the well being of elders and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of each of their volunteers. Read the whole report here

If you observe elder abuse, call it out! It is perhaps our greatest tool in fighting elder abuse.

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