World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: How Much Do We Know About Elder Abuse?

Rwanda, like some other African countries such as Nigeria among others, is one of the countries where respecting the elders is ethical. You would hardly find an old woman or man standing on the bus because younger people give out their seats to them.

Elders only represent 4.9 per cent of the Rwandan population, and in some cases, they are abused. Sometimes because people are not aware of ‘Elder abuse.’

“We think it doesn’t exist or count much. This is because of lack of awareness or that people are not educated about it.

“If I remember very well, all the education I have acquired from primary to upper classes, I have never been taught elderly abuse. The only subject I have been taught is child abuse, children’s rights and women abuse,” Innocent Kabera, a counsellor tells The New Times.

Every June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, where more information on elder abuse and how to address it should be shared.

The UN defines elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial abuse and self-neglect.

Elder physical abuse is the intended use of force against an elderly person that leads to physical harm which ranges from physical pain to death. The signs of physical violence are broken bones, bruises, burns, sprains and tooth loss, among others.

Elder sexual abuse is the forced or unwanted sexual interaction of any kind with an older adult. It includes any sexual contact with an elder who has dementia, Alzheimer’s (a kind of mental disorder), or another disability that prevents them from consenting to a sexual act.

The warning signs of the abuse include bleeding from the anus or genitals, bruised genitals or inner thighs, new sexually transmitted diseases, pain of the anus or genitals, problems walking or sitting, suicide attempts and social or emotional withdrawal among others.

Psychological and emotional elder abuse are intentional acts that impose mental pain, fear, or distress on an elder. They range from barring access to resources, humiliation, insults, intimidation, isolation, name-calling and threats, among others.

Some of the signs are appearing disturbed or scared, attempting to hurt others, avoiding eye contact, different eating or sleeping patterns, low self-esteem and mood swings.

Elder neglect is when a caregiver fails to protect an elder from harm or doesn’t meet an elder’s needs in a way that results in or risks serious injury.

Examples of elder neglect include failure to adequately provide: basic daily living activities or shelter, clothing, hygiene upkeep, medical care, nutrition and hydration and protection from danger, among others.

Elder abandonment is when someone who assumes care of an elderly person intentionally deserts them. They may leave them elder at a hospital, nursing home, or another care facility without any arrangement, or with relatives who did not agree to be caregivers.

This makes the elder appear confused, lost, or scared, look lonely or depressed, seem frail, malnourished, or dehydrated and have poor hygiene, among others.

Elder financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual’s resources by someone in a trusting relationship with that individual.

This is seen when the elder has a pattern of lost belongings, an elder who doesn’t understand or know their financial situation, and unexplained bank withdrawals, among others.

Elder self-neglect is when an elderly person is no longer able to meet his or her basic daily needs but does not make arrangements to get those needs met by others. Elder self-neglect can be as dangerous to an older adult as forms of elder abuse inflicted by others.

The World Health Organization estimates that 15.7 per cent of people 60 years and older are subjected to abuse, but unfortunately, most cases are not reported. Reports indicate that elder abuse could increase as many countries encourage people to stay indoors due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“In most cases, people do not understand or believe elders when they tell about their abuse. They mostly blame them that it’s because of the age that is making them complain much,” Kabera explains.

He adds that families and friends of elders encourage them to talk more about everything.

“Like how they are feeling, what they love or what is making them uncomfortable. This is because elders are most likely to be hesitant or scared to bring up their abuse experience but with proper communication, they may confide in you.”

He further encourages older people to learn new hobbies so that they can avoid self-neglect.

Sourced from: The New Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.