A majority of older persons face elder abuse all the time throughout their old age irrespective of their financial or social status, health condition and role in their respective family. As of July 2015, over 65% of elderly in India face abuse of some sort. A more shocking and painful fact is that they are abused in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in facilities responsible for their care. Abuse of elders takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly or physical assault, some involving neglect, and others involving financial exploitation. Frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person and changes in personality or behavior in the elder are the most common signs of abuse.
The biggest challenge in combating elder abuse is that it is under – reported and/or unreported. Fear of retaliation is a major factor in not reporting abuse. Many elders feel it is their fate that they are being harassed by their own children and would rather tolerate it painfully than bring them to book. Mobility restrictions in elderly also add to the number of unreported cases of abuse.
Elders’ helplines have been set up in most cities in India to overcome this problem. Elders can call the helpline number (toll free number in most cases) to reach out for help and assistance against abuse. The staff at these helpline centers are skilled to sensitively and tactfully solve cases that are reported there. Elders can be assured of emotional support from the helpline staff during the course of intervention.
Elders can also reach out to the helpline centres for assistance and advice on legal matters. Information on service providers for elderly and other needs of elderly can also be sought at the elders helpline.