NEW DELHI: Ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, a survey with focus on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic found 71% elderly respondents are of the opinion that cases of abuse against them increased during the lockdown period and after.
A majority 56.1% of the respondents said they were suffering abuse in their families or by society. The forms of abuse include a wide range from disrespect and verbal abuse, silent treatment (not talking to them), ignoring their daily needs, denying proper food, denying medical support, cheating financially, physical and emotional violence and forcing the elderly to work.
The survey was steered by volunteers of civil society organisation Agewell Foundation between June 1 to June 12 and is based on responses of 5,000 elderlypeople in different parts of the country, including metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Of the 2,804 respondents who said they were facing abuse, 79% said elderly face mistreatment in old age mostly due to financial reasons .
The study further indicates that the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown related rules have forced most senior citizens above to live in isolation. A very high 69% of elderly respondents said their lives have been affected by the situation arising out of the pandemic.
A significant 71% of elderly respondents said that they believe cases of elder abuse have increased during lockdown period and after. Among them 58% claimed interpersonal relationships are the major factor behind increasing incidence of elder abuse in families. Besides this, 63.7% of elderly respondents said they were facing neglect in their life.
Himanshu Rath, chairman of Agewell Foundation, said Covid-19 has created a negative atmosphere around older persons. “Older people are not only facing social restrictions but also family restrictions. Many are not being able to visit their doctors. They also aren’t being able to share their worries with friends/relatives,” he added.
Rath feels there is a need to sensitise and build awareness among families and elderly people themselves need to be educated about facilities, support systems, legal provisions and non-formal support networks. He emphasised on the need to have dedicated helplines for people facing abuse.