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Elder abuse, a continuing bane of Indian society

Elder abuse, a continuing bane of Indian society
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Highlights

Elder abuse is an ill-treatment of elders. Generally, elders get abused in the hands of people very close to them- spouse, son, daughter, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, close relatives, friends, neighbours, paid care givers etc on whom elders rely for service and support.

Elder abuse is an ill-treatment of elders. Generally, elders get abused in the hands of people very close to them- spouse, son, daughter, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, close relatives, friends, neighbours, paid care givers etc on whom elders rely for service and support.

Elder abuse is in different forms such as:

Physical : Slapping, pushing, hitting, kicking, confinement, giving excessive or improper medication and withholding treatment etc.

Psychological or emotional : Humiliation, ridicule, constant harsh criticism, mental torture, blaming, shunning, threatening etc.

Financial : Misappropriation of financial resources, forceful withdrawal of money from bank accounts, takeaway cash, gold, valuable things from the house without the consent of elder, fraudulent/forceful transfer of assets.

Sexual: Forcing the elders to participate in sexual activity, sexual chatting.

Abandonment: Abandon the elder without attending to their wellbeing.

Institutional abuse : Negligence in providing services to elders by old age homes, wellness centres, geriatric hospitals etc.

Interventions for the welfare of elders: Keeping in view all these issues, United Nations Organisation has urged all member countries to observe 15th June of every year as "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day" to raise voice against Elder Abuse vide 6/127 resolution passed in 2011. It advocated for creation of awareness to Elders, Youth and society for promoting cordial relations among elders and children to eradicate the abuse.

Awareness should be created on the rights of elders and existing laws and "Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007" to elders and youth. Because this Act is totally addressing core issues of Senior Citizens such as maintenance, protection of life and property of Senior Citizens. Maintenance Tribunals and Appellate Tribunals are constituted as per Section 7 of this Act which are safeguarding the right of maintenance from children and close relatives and restore the illegal transfer of elder's property in a short span of 120 days without any expenses.

Section 20 and 21 of this Act provides medical support and protection of life and property to senior citizens from Medical and Police departments of the government. Ultimately this act is safeguarding senior citizens from abuse from children and others. Press should play vital role in spreading the provisions of Maintenance Act of 2007 and restoration of cordial relations between the elders and children.

Senior Citizens Associations should extend help to them in approaching the concerned authorities for solving their issues. Therefore, Senior Citizens Associations should be formed in all villages, Colonies, towns and cities to protect the rights of Senior Citizens.

Even after 13 years, "Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007" is not fully implemented in Telangana state. Maintenance Tribunals are not established in all Revenue Divisions of the state till today. Functioning of Tribunals is not encouraging. Maintenance Tribunals are supposed to pass orders in 90 days after issuing of notices to the concerned. Some Tribunals are taking more than 6 months' time for deliver the orders.

Older persons are roaming around these Tribunals as they do around the courts. After passing the orders Tribunal authorities are not paying much attention in implementing their own orders. Some elders are committed to suicide in Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal office premises for this type of inordinate delay. Government should review frequently the functioning of Maintenance Tribunals and Appellate Tribunals for improvement.

As per Section 20 of this Act Government should ensure for ear marking separate beds for Senior Citizens in all Government and Government aided hospitals for treatment to all diseases. Geriatric wards are to be opened in all district government hospitals for giving treatment to geriatric patients. Separate queues are to be maintained for Senior Citizens in all hospitals. Primary medical care facilities are to be provided to Senior Citizens through Mobile Medical Hospitals once or twice in a month at their residential areas.

Old Age Homes are to be established at least one in each district as per section 19 of Maintenance Act 2007. Integrated Day Care Centres for Senior Citizens with facilities-meeting hall, yoga, meditation, indoor games, library, primary health check-up, physiotherapy, canteen etc are to be established in all towns and at Mandal headquarters for providing recreation facilities. Senior Citizens Associations may be provided accommodation facilities for extending services to Senior Citizens more effectively.

(The author is State President, Telangana State All Senior Citizens Association)

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