By 2050, world’s elderly population is expected to grow by 2 billion and with this grows the vulnerability of this already fragile population which is subjected to daily abuse at home as well as at institutional level. one in every six elderly people above 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during 2021, according to recent data revealed by World Health organization (WHO) on World Elderly Abuse Day, 2022.
Situations seems to have worsened during the covid 19 pandemic when elderly population, who not only faced the brunt of loneliness and abuse at homes but the abuse increased at institutional level with two in three institutional staff such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.
Elderly Abuse is a grave ‘Human Rights’ Issue
Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, increased risk of nursing home placement, use of emergency services, hospitalization and premature death.
The WHO, in its report stated that elder abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing a rapidly ageing population and the global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.
Besides, Agewell Foundation’s 12th session of the open-ended working group for the purpose of strengthening the protection of human rights of older persons at the United Nations was held from 11-14 April 2022 at UN Headquarters, New York this year.
They had conducted an exclusive study with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) department.
In an exclusive study conducted among 10000 older persons from across the country, titled “Contribution of Older Persons in Sustainable Development (With a special focus on Impact of Pandemic on Old People), February 2022, the study has revealed that older persons were not only prone to the severity and fatality of Covid-19 due to age, they also had had to live under the shadow of constant fear of death/loss of family members/loss of jobs to earning family members due to Covid-19.
Impact of abuse of elderly
- 45.7% of respondents termed the sense of loneliness/isolation termed as the most prominent psychological issue.
- For every 5th elderly respondent (19.5% elderly) their quality of life had been compromised due to rising inflation.
- 73.6% of elderly respondents said that paralyzed healthcare system adversely affected their life adversely.
Human Rights violation of Older Population during Covid-19
- 47.6% of elderly realized that during the Covid-19 situation their human rights were compromised remarkably.
- 49.5% of elderly reportedly lost independence /freedom due to the Covid-19 situation. Attitudinal change towards older persons during Covid-19 became a phenomenon
- The covid-19 phenomenon had changed the attitude of more than 82.6% elderly. Among them, 75.1% of the respondents were not optimistic about the future
- 93.2% of the respondents admitted that their major concern was looking after the health condition of self/spouse. 66.2% elderly were also concerned for their family members. Ever widening Generation Gap • 74.9% of elderly respondents claimed that the generation gap has widened over a couple of years.
- During the survey, 76.7% of the elderly admitted that restrictions on social interactional activities were the main reason for the ever-widening generation gap.
Speaking about the same, Himanshu Rath, founder chairman of Agewell Foundation said, “Older persons must be given equal rights and opportunities in a non-discriminatory manner, so that their participation in the mainstream and contribution to sustainable development can be ensured. In our country, the majority of the older persons are not prepared for their old age, hence most of them have to depend on others for their various needs and requirements, particularly related to finance, healthcare and social support. They need to be supported at all levels”
How to secure elderly population
To address the ever-growing challenges pertaining to issues concerning older people, governments at all levels, need to modify their old age-related policies and make them older persons friendly. In order to ensure equal rights & opportunities for older people, there is an urgent need to take these steps;
- Study various aspects of older persons and initiate social, economic and health policy debate about aging
- Create older persons friendly environment in the country in order to facilitate their participation in sustainable development and appreciate their contribution To protect the human rights of older persons, the following steps need to be taken up;
- To bridge the gap between generations by promoting and conducting inter-generational bonding programs.
- To create better awareness about the Human Rights of Old People across the country. In order to ensure older persons’ economic security, the following initiatives must be adopted at a larger scale;
- Pre- and post-retirement training programs for older persons to provide the soft skills, digital literacy and other training for skill enhancement.
- Provisions for encouraging employment of retired elderly in the unorganized service sector by initiating incentives schemes. To ensure social security for people in old age, concerned stakeholders need to focus on:
- Maximum coverage under existing and/or new income and social security schemes
- Positive environment for financial planning from the younger age, so that they can earn ensured income in old age.