HelpAge India report on Elder Abuse reveals Son as the topmost perpetrator and for the first time assesses the Impact of Technology

Bhubaneswar: HelpAge India releases a nationwide report today on ‘Elder Abuse in India 2018 – Changing Cultural Ethos & Impact of Technology’ on the eve of UN recognized ‘World Elder Abuse Awareness Day’. It was released at Bhubaneswar.

“My Sons want sell the house to start their own business, they often ask me when will you die.” -63-year-old, Inderjeet Singh

“Behaviour of my Son has been changed after registering the property in his name, he now harasses me frequently.” – 75 years old, Abdul

“It’s been a long time and I have not heard from my Son, is he alive?” – 76 years old, Dineshbhai

These are some heart-rending voices of the victims of Elder Abuse who were recently surveyed by HelpAge India. Their names have been changed to protect their identity.

The 23 city report by HelpAge India, across Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities, had 5014 respondents across SEC B, C & D. It aimed at understanding the extent, depth, form, frequency and reasons behind Elder Abuse. For the first time the Impact of Social Media & Technology vis a vis Elder Abuse was studied, which brought out some startling insights.

Nearly one-fourth (25%) elders experienced abuse personally. The main abusers were Son (52%) and Daughter-in-law (34%).

The most common form of abuse they experienced was Disrespect (56%), Verbal Abuse (49%) and Neglect (33%). Economic Exploitation was 22% and Beating & Slapping was a disturbing 12%.

“Each year we try to get a better understanding of the existence of this heinous crime against our elderly and create awareness about the issue. Unfortunately, Elder Abuse starts at home and from whom they trust the most. This year the Son has turned out to be the foremost perpetrator of Elder Abuse, followed by the daughter-in-law who normally is perceived as the primary abuser as per past surveys. We run a toll-free Elder Helpline No. 1800-345-1253 for such elders in need, so they can reach out to us for help, often young good Samaritans call us wanting help an elder they see in need of help and protection”, says Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India.

“We also looked into the Impact of Technology vis a vis Elder Abuse. While technology in itself is good and progressive, it also has adverse impacts in the lives of our elderly. The findings were an eye-opener, with nearly 65% elderly stating that extreme attention given to phones/ computers is disrespectful. We are therefore running a campaign across the country called #Disconnect2Connect, urging young adults to Disconnect from their mobile & computer devices even for a little while and connect with the older person living in the same house. To look up and acknowledge their presence, for it is extremely hurtful for the elderly, as they are unable to cope with this fact paced technology and feel isolated,” says Cherian.

The top 5 cities which had a high percentage of Elder Abuse were – Mangalore (47%), Ahmedabad (46%), Bhopal (39%), Amritsar (35%) and Delhi (33%).

Unfortunately, 82% of those abused, did not report the matter. The key reasons for Not Reporting – were to “maintain confidentiality (52%) of family matter” or “did not know how to deal with problem (34%)” suggesting lack of awareness.

73% elders felt that ‘their adult children are too busy on the phone even when at home with them.’ 78% elders agreed that Social Media had decreased their families personal time spent with them.
More than 50% of the Abusers were Skilled Workers & Working Professionals. Their mean age was 42 years, which is the young adult.

The most effective ways to deal with Elder Abuse as per elders was – ‘Sensitize children & strengthen inter-generational bonding’ (38%), ‘Increase Economic Independence of the abused’ (37%) and ‘Sensitize Adults’ (35%), while 25% elders suggested the need to develop a more effective response & redressal system.

“As mentioned above, 38% elders feel the most effective way to deal with Elder Abuse is to ‘sensitize children & strengthen inter-generational bonding’, HelpAge in fact runs an active ‘Student Action for Value Education’ (SAVE) program with this very aim to inculcate the values of love, care and respect in children and young adolescents towards elders, so they are sensitized at an early age and don’t turn into Abusers in their later years. Another way of tackling this increasing generation gap between the young & the old, is bridging this technology gap and empowering our elders, we at HelpAge therefore run free Digital Literacy Workshops for elders so they can keep up with this fast paced changing technology.” says Bharati Chakra, State Head Odisha, HelpAge India.



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