Elder abuse is a 365 day occurrence which should not be taken lightly.
This opinion was expressed last weekend by Chairman of the National Assistance Board, Cephus Sealey, while speaking at a church service to mark Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2014 at the Brittons Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church, Brittons Hill, St. Michael.
Speaking under the theme One Person, One Action, One Nation, United Against Elder Abuse, the chairman noted: ???Our elderly are living longer, have some assets, [are] generally in better health and enjoy some memory. These elderly persons stand to be victimised or ostracised by their own children, grandchildren or other family members to gain control of their assets.???
He added that abuse was also inflicted by some care providers and that there were instances of deliberate elder abuse by children who felt as though they had been abandoned by one or both of their parents during their formative years.
Mr. Sealey cited instances of elder abuse that included: parents who were forced to provide for their children and grandchildren; an elderly person having to sleep with jewellery and money on their person at night for fear of it being stolen; elderly persons being left in soiled clothing or lying on a soiled mattress; others being compelled to hand over their pension cheques and various forms of sexual abuse.
According to him, the shame associated with such treatment caused persons to refuse to eat or get up from their beds, pray for death, commit suicide, deliberately fall and injure themselves, or cross busy streets where there was a possibility of being struck.
To raise awareness of the occurrence of elder abuse, the National Assistance Board, in conjunction with the Planning Committee for Activities for Older Persons, has created a national protocol for the prevention and reporting, investigation and management of elder abuse.
???This protocol along with the???national policy on ageing for Barbados will help to facilitate the vital legislation needed to address the issue of elder abuse, the Chairman pointed out.
However, he said that more needed to be done to encourage persons in the community to become more actively involved in the prevention of elder abuse.
???Older persons who are abused or neglected do not exist in isolation???[They] are part of families, our neighbourhoods, our churches and our communities. Therefore, the raising of awareness and the relevant information concerning the issue must be taken to the community and community organisations. I believe that the Barbados Association of Retired Persons can play a strategic role in creating an elder abuse hotline as part of their programmes to its members,??? he observed.
June 15 was designated by the United Nations as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.