Sons Are Topmost Perpetrators of Elderly Abuse, Says Nationwide Report

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HelpAge India’s latest report released today reveals a disturbing rise in elderly abuse, with sons identified as the topmost perpetrators; daughters-in-law follow closely behind.

“My sons want to sell the house to start their own business, they often ask me when will you die.” – 63-year-old Inderjeet Singh

“Behaviour of my son has been changed after registering the property in his name, he now harasses me frequently.” – 75-year-old Abdul

“It’s been a long time and I have not heard from my son, is he alive?”
76-year-old Dineshbhai

These and more were some of the disturbing voices heard by HelpAge India interviewers when they set out to survey 5014 elders above the age of 60 across Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in the country this year. HelpAge India, an NGO that supports the elderly, has been conducting annual surveys on different themes related to the elderly since 2013.

The 23 city report, titled ‘Elder Abuse in India 2018 – Changing Cultural Ethos & Impact of Technology’, was aimed at understanding the extent, depth, form, frequency and reasons behind elder abuse.

Nearly one-fourth (25%) elders experienced abuse personally. The main abusers were sons (52%) and daughters-in-law (34%). As many as 26% also faced abuse by their daughters, 15% by their spouses or partners, 6% by grandchildren and 2% by sons-in-law.

More than 50% of the abusers were skilled workers and working professionals. Their mean age was 42 years.

An overwhelming majority, 85% of the elders surveyed, said they lived with their families.

“Each year we try to get a better understanding of the existence of this heinous crime against our elderly and create awareness about the issue. Unfortunately, elder abuse starts at home and from whom they trust the most. This year the son has turned out to be the foremost perpetrator of elder abuse, followed by the daughter-in-law who normally is perceived as the primary abuser as per past surveys. We run a toll-free Elder Helpline No. 1-800-180-1253 for such elders in need, so they can reach out to us for help, often young good samaritans call us wanting help an elder they see in need of help and protection”, said Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India.

The most common form of abuse elders experienced was Disrespect (56%), Verbal Abuse (49%) and Neglect (33%). Economic Exploitation was 22% and Beating & Slapping was a disturbing 12%.

The top 5 cities that had a high percentage of elder abuse were Mangalore (47%), Ahmedabad (46%), Bhopal (39%), Amritsar (35%) and Delhi (33%).

Unfortunately, 82% of those abused, did not report the matter. The key reasons for not reporting were to “maintain confidentiality (52%) of family matter” or “did not know how to deal with problem (34%)” suggesting lack of awareness.

73% elders felt that ‘their adult children are too busy on the phone even when at home with them.’ 78% elders agreed that social media had decreased their families’ personal time spent with them.

“We also looked into the impact of technology vis a vis elder abuse. While technology in itself is good and progressive, it also has adverse impacts in the lives of our elderly. The findings were an eye-opener, with nearly 65% elderly stating that extreme attention given to phones/ computers is disrespectful,” said Cherian.

HelpAge India, along with 300 senior citizens from across the national capital of Delhi, will hold a candlelight march on June 15 at Parliament Street to raise awareness about elderly abuse.

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