KARACHI: People are aware of the evil called Child Abuse but very few know the faceless monster called Elder Abuse that is present in countries (developed or developing) all over the world.
WHO has confirmed that globally, too little is known about Elder Abuse and how to prevent it, specially in developing countries like Pakistan.
A Chicago-based John-Hopkins graduate (Doctorate of Medicine/Master of Public Health), while talking to this scribe on this subject has revealed that in the West well-to-do families often opt to get their elderly parents/relatives admitted at Nursing Homes, unaware of the macabre fact that their loved ones (as observed by the said Doctor himself) are very often beaten by their attendants.
In the Sub-Continent Indo-Pakistan too it transpired during the COVID-19 lockdowns that not only couples got edgy and resorted to violence at homes. The aged members of the family too were sometimes reckoned as burden and abused or left alone to suffer the agony of loneliness. Even here many leave their (children and) old people at the mercy of servants unaware of the chilling reality that their near and dear ones are regularly abused by the caretakers.
Even during the prevailing Virus-Crisis one can see these old people standing or sitting outside the banks to collect their meager pension or interest on savings braving the scorching heat sans any sitting arrangement or even water to drink. Not only senior citizens should get their pensions at their homes, there should be more counters to cater to them. Counseling services should be provided to elders for coping anxiety, loneliness and other issues.
According to WHO around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year; rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year; elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences; elder abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations; global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.
Many strategies, as stated by WHO, have been implemented to prevent elder abuse and to take action against it and mitigate its consequences: Public and professional awareness campaigns; screening (of potential victims and abusers); school-based inter-generational programs; caregiver support interventions (including stress management and respite care); residential care policies to define and improve standards of care; caregiver training on dementia.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the month of May 2016 the World Health Assembly adopted a Global strategy and action plan on ageing and health that provides guidance for coordinated action in countries on elder abuse that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In line with the Global strategy WHO and partners collaborate to prevent elder abuse through initiatives that help to identify, quantify, and respond to the problem, including: building evidence on the scope and types of elder abuse in different settings (to understand the magnitude and nature of the problem at the global level), particularly in low- and middle-income countries from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, for which there is little data; collecting evidence and developing guidance for Member States and all relevant sectors to prevent elder abuse and strengthen their responses to it; disseminating information to countries and supporting national efforts to prevent elder abuse; and collaborating with international agencies and organizations to deter the problem globally.
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