The shocking figures have come out which reveals the sorry state of elderly throughout the globe on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Around 1 in 6 elderly people experience some kind of abuse in the world. The figures have seen an upsurge as compared to previously estimated and predicted to rise as populations age worldwide. According to a new study conducted by WHO and published in the Lancet Global Health has revealed that almost 16% of people aged 60 years or older were subjected to psychological abuse, financial abuse, neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse. The research was based on the best available evidence from 52 studies in 28 countries from different regions which included 12 low and middle-income countries.
"The abuse of older people is on the rise; for the 141 million older people worldwide this has serious individual and societal costs," says Alana Officer, Senior Health Adviser, Department of Ageing and Life Course at WHO. "We must do much more to prevent and respond to the increasing frequency of different forms of abuse."
Elder abuse and health
Talking about elder people’s abuse still remains rare in our society. It is defined as actions or lack of appropriate actions which can cause harm or mental stress to an older person, taking place within any relationship where there is an exception of trust. Any kind of abuse on elderly can result in an impact on their health, both physical and mental.
Psychological abuse is the most omnipresent. This includes behaviours that harm an older person’s self esteem or respect, like name-calling, public shaming, house arrest, preventing them from talking to family and friends.
Financial abuse includes misusing an older person’s money, property or asset. It also involves failure to meet the basic requirement of an old person, like food, clothes, house, etc.
Health effects of abuse include traumatic injury and pain, as well as depression, stress and anxiety. Elder abuse can lead to an increased risk of nursing home placement, use of emergency services, hospitalization and death.
"Despite the frequency and the serious health consequences, elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national plans to prevent violence," Ms Officer adds.
By 2050 the number of people aged 60 and over will double to reach 2 billion globally, with the vast majority of older people living in low- and middle-income countries. If the proportion of elder abuse victims remains constant, the number of people affected will increase rapidly due to population ageing, growing to 320 million victims by 2050.
"Elder abuse is rarely discussed in policy circles, less prioritized for research and addressed by only a handful of organizations," notes Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.
"Governments must protect all people from violence. We must work to shed light on this important societal challenge, understand how best to prevent it, and help put in place the measures needed."
15th June is designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day as per United Nation's regulation 66/127. It is marked as that day of the year where the whole world can address and voice the concerns regarding abuse of elder people.