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Mistreatment is the most common form of elderly abuse in India

Mistreatment is the most common form of elderly abuse in India

The care and love, that your parents showcase upon you today, is not free. It is not yours to keep forever. You have to pay it back, to them, in their old age. This is the age when they won’t be able to help you financially, socially, mentally etc., and then it becomes your duty to help them. At this age, they should be afraid of hurt from strangers, thieves etc like every other person and not from their own family members. But some of us don’t get this. Some of us mistreat our elders without even knowing sometimes. While some others does it intentionally.

In three decades from now, the population of elders in India will cross 100 million. India has always been considered as a country which has its value and culture still intact. Reports of elderly abuse have always been more prominent in the west and 25 years back no one would have thought of this kind of abuse happening in India. Although everybody knew stories of their own household and those of their neighbours but they decided to be mum about it. This was because of the social stigma attached to this topic. But now as we are talking about other controversial topics I think it is pretty important to talk about this kind of social crime happening under everybody’s nose.

According to elder abuse attorneys, elder for this purpose is any person in India who has attained the age of 60 years or is not able to take care of him or herself financially and physically. There is no universally accepted definition of this old age. Mistreatment or elder abuse is defined by elder abuse attorneys as act or omission on the part of the caregiver of the elder, which may be intentional or unintentional that cause serious risk of harm to that elder. This abuse can be of different ways. Some of them are:

  • Physical abuse- Physically causing harm to the elder in the form of coercion, slapping etc.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse- infliction of mental distress through a verbal or an implied act.
  • Neglect- this is omission on the part of the caregiver to provide the elder with food, shelter, good health etc.
  • Financial abuse- in general language this is called exploitation. This is the most common form of abuse. In this the caretaker misuses the property and funds of the elderly on his/her own discretion without the permission of the elder.
  • Abandonment- in India, this is used least, the reason being that nobody wants to come out in the eyes of the society as the one who deserted his/her parents.

Because some people need to be forced for what needs to be done naturally, that is why there are various laws in India which forces everyone to respect the elders in their families’ else legal action may follow. Maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens act, 2007 is one such act. Any elder abuse lawyer could easily tell you the consequences of mistreatment of elders.

In the end, we need to understand that ageing is a natural process. What mistreatment you are doing today to your elders may hit you back when you reach your 60s. It is important to understand that many aspect of this problem is still not known to the people like what makes a person abuse his/her parents etc. And without knowing the causes intervention cannot be done. For now, I feel that even if some people treat the elders in their house respectfully, sole reason of which being coercion by law, it is still a positive thing. At least somewhere some elder is not mistreated.