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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ELDER ABUSE ESSAY 3rd Best: Role of Civil Society and Government by Mrs. N.M. Helen Dorothy

On the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 15th June 2009, Silver Inning Foundation (SIF), a dedicated organization for senior citizens and their family members hosted Essay Competition on ELDER ABUSE.SIF invited an Essay on "Elder Abuse: Role of Civil Society and Government ".

Following is Third Best Essay:


The term ‘abuse’ can be linked to extreme behavior, Disrespect; lack of dignified living” neglect, and abandonment meted out to the elderly. In most cases, elderly abuse starts at family level itself.

Process of aging is natural phenomena and every individual has to face it at later stage of life. This fact is often overlooked by the perpetrators of abuse. God is unseen creator of the world. But Parents are also creators to whom we owe our own life.


1. Collapse of Joint family system, 2. Change in value system, 3. Growing individualism, 4. Urbanization, 5. Poverty.
Root of problem can be traced to various socio-economic factors. An important factor is the demographic shift in population ratio where, the dependency ratio (ratio between 15-59 yrs 60+age group) increases due to longer life expectancy. As things stand, rapid spread of modernization, growing urbanization and crumbling of joint family system have conspired to increased insecurity, loneliness among elderly population. India has not yet come out with an appropriate and effective policy framework to provide social security for the elders. Laws do exist but its implementation is tardy, slack and ineffective. Lack of family support, poor financial status, physical , mental disorders , guilt of being dependent on others are some of the problems nagging the elderly population in India, & various other countries .




Recognizing the paradox of traditional society and changing realities of life, Government of India introduced a dynamic National Policy for Older Persons, way back in 1999.

Article 41 of Indian Constitution deals with the State’s role in providing social security to the aged. According this article, "the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of unemployment, OLD AGE, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want": The Constitution of India (as on 1 June, 1996), Government of India.

If any person refuses or neglects to maintain their parents a magistrate may order such a person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his/ her mother or father at a monthly rate not exceeding Rs.500 (Natarajan, 2000).
It is the primary responsibility of society and government to recognize the problem of Elderly abuse and address the issue squarely, effectively, and urgently so that the present sufferings are alleviated at the earliest.

Most of the present government schemes aim at providing just monetary benefit to elderly citizens. In many cases, the money intended for elderly, does not reach the beneficiaries. In 10th plan, under integrated program for older persons, financial assistance up to 90% of the project cost is provided to NGOs for establishing and maintaining old age homes, day care centers, and mobile Medicare units and to provide non-institutional services to older persons.

Some State governments have taken steps, in instructing police network to identify and collect information about elders staying in their respective jurisdiction. They are supposed to visit the elderly periodically, or remain in touch with them through telephone & other means of communication. These schemes also suffer the fate of gathering dust in some obscure cup boards of government offices.

VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS : There are few voluntary organizations with good amount of resources working for welfare of elderly in India and world wide. Help age India, Age well foundation, and International network for prevention of elderly abuse (INPEA) are some major ones.

No amount of government efforts can substitute the effectiveness of active social support in caring for the elderly members. A strong net work starting from neighbor hood groups can go a long way in formulating, and implementing care group activity. In rural areas such groups consisting of enthusiastic and philanthropic group of young persons can be formed on village level. In urban areas, they can be formed on neighbor hood basis like, say, and housing society level. Such groups, can then identify, and set up elder care programmers. This can be started by visiting elderly people, assessing their individual needs and trying to involve themselves physically and resource wise to meet their specific needs. Work of such active groups can indirectly force family members to treat elders with due respect through exerting a social and moral pressure.

NGOs and government agencies should make use of this elementary group in coordinating and executing their activities and make sure that the benefits really reach the needy. These groups can be entrusted with necessary resources through the NGO network and they can form the foundation of any relief / rehabilitation projects.

NGOs can work on sensitizing children in caring for elderly. School children can be engaged such projects. Through the children, such voluntary efforts can penetrate to family, thus creating more awareness in them to take care of elders in proper way.

Elderly persons can be encouraged to participate in creative activities, and to interact socially with all age groups. Opportunities should be identified and launched to entrust certain self help activities with co-operation from elderly persons themselves who are better equipped health wise.

If we are able to create a feeling that Society needs the experience and wisdom of elderly, that can give a boost to their morale and they also can be encouraged to become useful members of society who are entitled to a decent and respectful life as any other spectrum of society.

Indians are generally god fearing and are believed to have better moral & spiritual values, say compared to western society. If it is true, they have to first learn to respect, honor and worship the parents who are the physical forms of God. Then only we can consider worthy of our great tradition and value system.

By Mrs. N.M. Helen Dorothy : maryhelendy@yahoo.co.in

1 comment:

Medical alert said...

The elderly are such a important source of knowledge and wisdom that we can draw from.

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