Sordid at Sixty: Abuse Levels Against the Elderly Skyrockets in Namma Chennai
CHENNAI: Here’s a bit of a shocker. The number of elderly people who suffered abuse in 2013 was nine per cent, it has gone up to 53 per cent in 2014— a rise of 44 per cent, according to a study by Helpage India released on Friday. This sets it higher than the national average which is 50 per cent.
V Sivakumar, joint director — Tamilnadu, Helpage India, attributed this to increased awareness about laws and helplines that work for the welfare of the elderly. “Last year, not many shared their woes, but this year many have disclosed their problems,” he said.
Madurai, the only other city from Tamil Nadu to have featured in the study, showed a decline in personal experience of abuse, but the percentage still remained higher than Chennai with 58 per cent. Disrespect, verbal abuse and economic exploitation were the top three types of abuse reported in the city.
According to victims, emotional dependence on the abuser was the top reason for abuse while changing ethos and economic dependence on the abuser were also major contributing factors. Eminent geriatrics doctor and professor V S Natarajan said that the major cases of abuse happened when elders were absolutely dependent on youngsters. “Seniors, who are dependent on other people, especially those living alone or are bedridden face more abuse from their caretakers and servants,” he said. Natrajan recommended initiatives to help senior citizens — like giving them an extra gas connection, benefits from housing board and financial incentives.
R Subharaj, secretary general of National Alliance of Senior Citizens Associations of India, called for change in the system for a better life for the elderly. “Electronic media has improved but there is a decline in the cultural values inculcated to children. They do not learn to respect their grandparents since their parents do not do so,” he added.