Day before yesterday (15.6.09) was the World Elders Abuse Prevention Day and as usual in Bangalore it went unnoticed. Except for a function organised by Nightingales Medical Trust.
Elder Abuse, decades ago was first reported in British scientific journals as “Granny Bashing” about the Elderly facing overt/or covert abuse, economic deprivation, social neglect and religious abuse (especially widows). Elder abuse may manifest as physical, psychological, financial or as neglect.
The family has generally been the traditional primary source of the social, economic, psychological and physical support for the aged. However, the elderly get affected due to lack of support from children who would have grown into adulthood and are in the web of fulfilling their own priorities. Joint family system has almost vanished from the urban areas with nuclear family replacing it. And due to lack of any worthwhile scheme of social insurance or social assistance these elderly become one of the marginalised and vulnerable sections of the society.
Anti-social elements also take advantage of the weakness of elders as seen by the number of murders of elderly that have taken place in a city like Bangalore in the recent past.
Property issues, psychological and financial pressures on care givers or children, dependency factor, ill-health and physical disability of the elderly, economic insufficiency of the elderly and many other factors lead to elder abuse.
Older women, especially in India face a ‘triple jeopardy’ - that of being female in patriarchal culture, of being old in a fast changing society and of being poor.Older women’s health is affected by a lifetime of poor nutrition, multiple pregnancies, poor reproductive health care apart from other causes.
Percentage of widows is also disproportionately larger in India than that of widowers. Literacy rate among widow population is also extremely low (8%) with majority of widows being totally, economically dependent (80%).
Our country presents a sad picture when it comes to the care of the elderly. There is no baseline data about aged in the country, there is no comprehensive social security provision for the people, there is no universal medicare system for all, a sizeable number of aged live under poverty line, institutional facilities are totally inadequate for the number of people who require such care, there is no conscious planning to meet the needs of the elderly, public awareness of issues involved in elderly care is dismal and finally, there is no comprehensive National Policy for the elderly.
Omashram Trust was founded nearly nine years ago for the care of the elderly in Bangalore. The Old Age Home is housed in three separate rented premises in Bangalore and currently has 35 residential aged people most of them women. The institution has strictly survived because of the support of kind-hearted individual donors from India and abroad and contributions from some corporates. Government funding is nil ! The main reason being that all of this funding is mired in corruption.
Omashram Trust, Bangalore.
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