Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Elder abuse on the rise

With changing demographical equations, the elderly are being marginalised globally. International visitors at TISS discuss elder abuse.

This aspect was discussed at length at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) by Susan B Somers, General Secretary, International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) on Monday. She was accompanied by Sailesh Mishra, founder president, Silver Inning Foundation, a Bandra-based NGO working for the cause of Senior Citizens and Reis Woollen, a geriatric nurse working on a module for the care of the elderly in India for Silver Innings. Somers was in India to explore the possibility of networking with groups working in this field.

INPEA, an international NGO is a legal entity in the US and was started around 14 years ago by Welsley Wolf, considered to be a pioneer in the field of elder abuse and the organization works in an international framework coordinating with the already existing care-givers and holding orientation programmes for such workers.
Somers, a practising lawyer in the field in the USA, says, “The implications of ageing in India and South Asia with regard to frailty, dementia or Alzheimer’s need to be studied and what we could do to support the family structure can be explored. Even if cultures are different the issues are similar.”

Referring to her visit to Nepal, she says that already there were a few individuals and groups working in the field and adds, “We have just tried to develop a curriculum for their training for updating of knowledge.” Dr Nusreen Rustomfram of the TISS feels that it is important to look into the possibility of how the elderly can stand up against abuse. In India, she feels the situation is complex as the elderly do not bring the injustice done to them in the open.

“There are always the defences, rationalizations and denials like saying that the son or daughter must have done it in anger, it may not recur, etc,” she says.Dr S Parasuraman, director of TISS states, “Considering the breakdown of the family system and migration, the number of caregivers in this category is small and training poor.

There is a great need across the country for proper training of these groups.” The situation he feels is complex considering the various socio-economic strata in the country: these need to be identified and some sort of universality could be worked out but he admits that it is a huge agenda. The challenge is even greater as 70 percent of the elderly in India are poor and vulnerable.

There is a staggering population of 90 million elders in India and the government has given no proper guidelines on the issue of care or abuse of the elderly.
Besides physical and mental abuse, Sommers has come across even sexual abuse of the elderly which is horrifying. “In the US,” she explains, “the elders have a right to a lawyer, right not to be discriminated against on grounds of age and the right to choose health and medical care.

Elders need to know that they are valuable. In the American legal system the penal aspect of crime against the elders is taken care of as there is an enhancement of a sentence for a crime against an elder as it sends a strong message to the perpetrator of the crime.”

Dr Nusreen Rustomfram of the TISS also informed about the course ‘Diploma in Gerontology’ which will create HR for our Elderly.

By Vrunda Moghe Dev for Times of India, Chembur – Ghatkopar plus, Mumbai Edition 8th May 2010


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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