Thursday, 11 June 2015

"Will you perform his last rites, because his son is busy in office?"


Just two days back our Mobile Medicare Team (MMU) came across a 78 year old man whose only dream in life was to donate his body when he breathes his last, only because his very own son, working in an MNC had made clear to him that he had no time for his burial rituals in case his father died in next few days as he would be busy with an office project.

Today there are 100 million elderly in India and this figure is likely to rise. But seeing the rampant cases of elderly abuse it is made very clear that many young in India don’t want them. According to the elder abuse report, there has been a marked increase in percentage of elders who reported experiencing abuse from 23% in 2013 to 50% in 2014. Whether it is financial abuse, physical abuse or neglect, seniors are getting injured all too often.

According to the National Centre on Elder Abuse, the number of older adults who are mistreated each year is close to 5 million and the figure is only rising. What else has become too common is the saddening fact that in most of cases of elder abuse, abuser is no one else but one of their own. It is very often that we hear the news of elderly being abused by their own sons and daughters-in-law. A few years back a heart breaking case came to light infront of HelpAge communications team, wherein an old couple stood waiting at the gates of one of the busiest airports, only because their son and daughter-in-law, who had promised to return with the boarding passes to fly to London, never returned.

There are various youth oriented schemes and projects, which at some level is correct, but in this we tend to neglect the elderly and their problems. In HelpAge India’s 2013 survey, 1 out of every 8 elderly interviewed, reported that they feel they are not needed and nobody cares they exist!

Why do people above the age of 80 and 90 have to work? The reason is same-no supporter or caregiver, nor much financial savings, because most, if not all, are indeed spent on raising children. Many of these children, never turn back to lend a helping hand to very same who rocked their cradles when they were too little to even use a spoon. Another fact tells us that 55 million elderly sleep on empty stomachs daily.

Elderly abuse is not only restricted to homes, but is a social problem. The lack of public facilities for the senior citizens is a disappointing factor for a developing country like India. The very basic necessities of food, water and shelter are also denied to them; because people think that it is not “strategic” to invest for them as they are in their twilight years.

We proudly speak of our education, values and our judicial system, but where does it all vanish when it comes to protecting our elders? Elder abuse happens daily and in every corner of the country in one form or the other. We see it but keep our eyes and ears shut. While abuse has gone up, unfortunately still 41% of those abused, did not report the matter to anyone for the sake of “maintaining confidentiality of family matter”. 46% reported facing abuse for 3-5 years, while 25% reported 1-2 years. Sadly, 4% of the elderly reported to be facing abuse for more than 15 years. In 2014, the number of people who are admitting to suffer abuse for 3-5 years jumped to 46% as against 28% the previous years. Another observation that came to light, was about the Reasons for Not Reporting abuse, is that in Metro cities there is marked ‘lack of confidence in the any person or agency to deal with the problem’ and also there seems to be a general feeling of “did not know how to deal with the abuse”. However “Fear of retaliation” appears in 3 out of 6 Tier II cities, unlike the Tier I cities. All elders surveyed seemed most aware of the police helpline at 67%. In the case of victims the awareness level continues to be high at 64% but only 12% approached the police. Nationally, the effective mechanisms perceived by all elderly to deal with Elder Abuse include “increasing economic independence of the abused (30%)”, “sensitizing children and strengthening inter-generational bonding (21%)” and “developing Self-Help-Groups of Older Persons to provide assistance and intervention (14%).”

Our elders need our love and little bit of our time. Is it too tough an ask that we fail to acknowledge everytime? Watch Bhibu Sharma’s story to know that abuse is not only physical, sometimes, it's pricks just as much, when it comprises neglect and disrespect. 

 Click the above image to watch the video

Join HelpAge India on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2015 to #StopElderAbuseToday. Share your blogs on or simply tweet to us with your selfie or tag us on Facebook and Instagram just like several youngsters across the country are doing to break the silence with their simple gestures that'll raise voice against neglect and abuse of the elderly. Will you join us? 

To submit a blog at click here: IndiBlogger

To tweet, follow us here: @HelpAgeIndia_
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Official Hashtags: #StopElderAbuseToday   #WEAAD2015

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