Access to Justice
All kids love being around our grandparents during the growing up sate. They teach so many life-changing lessons. As one grows up, becomes busy their life journey, and tends to ignore the existence of the same elders. It is not uncommon for the elders to gradually turn into a burden. The younger generation forgets that these were the people who took care of their demands when they were young. The accumulation of a wide variety of molecular and cellular damage leads to ageing and results in a gradual decrease in physical and mental capacity. Manifesting in the enhanced risk of disease, and ultimately, death. These changes are neither linear nor consistent, and they are only loosely associated with a person’s age in years. There is another problem that gets cropped up is the abuse of the elders.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, WHO and UN and observed on 15 June every year and started in 2006. Observation provides an opportunity for all of us to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons and raising awareness of the factors and processes resulting in neglect and abuse. Elder abuse is one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality. In many parts of the world, elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It gets manifested in several ways. Self-Neglect, Physical Abuse, Neglect by Others, Financial Abuse, Mental Abuse, Abandonment forced isolation and even Sexual Abuse. An abuser can be a spouse, partner, relative, friend, neighbour, volunteer worker, paid worker, practitioner, solicitor, or any other individual with the intent to deprive a vulnerable person of their resources. Relatives include adult children and their spouses or partners, their offspring, and other extended family members. According to the UN, every 1 in 6 elder experiences some form of abuse in their every life. Every year there is a considerable increase in the number of elders in society. This number is expected to keep growing in the next ten years. With the growth in the number of elders, the abuse rate towards them is also likely to rise
People worldwide are living longer. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22% (almost 2 billion of them). The number of people aged 60 years and older is outnumbering the children younger than five years. 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries. Population ageing has started in high-income countries. Japan has 30% of the population are already over 60 years old. By the middle of the century, many countries, e.g., Chile, China, Iran, and Russia, will have a similar proportion of older people to Japan. How are the counties worldwide doing when it comes to the ageing population? Japan is home to the most ageing citizenry globally, with 27% of its population being 65 years of age or older. Italy (23%) and Portugal (22%) follow Japan. Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Latvia and Malta, also has a large percentage of their population belonging to the older generation. According to Population Census 2011, nearly 104 million elderly persons (aged 60 years or above) in India. Almost equivalent males and females. It is likely to grow to 173 million by 2026. 71% of the elderly population resides in rural areas.
A longer life brings with it opportunities, not only for older people and their families but also for societies. Additional years provide the chance to pursue new activities such as further education, a new career or pursuing a long-neglected passion. Older people also contribute in many ways to their families and communities.
Indian society has a rich tradition of respecting elders. Touching the feet of elders is an age-old tradition in India. With the passing of time and the influence of other cultures, such practices are disappearing. With many younger generations migrating to far off places searching for a better quality of life, many elder couples are left behind and struggle to lead their lives, coping with the challenges posed by age-related health issues. The situation becomes worse if one of the spouses go. Eldercare, community living is trying to fill the gap. Challenges get compounded if the financial condition is not sound. This is where governments need to put robust support mechanisms in place to take care of these elders. More importantly, ensure that they are not abused.
Respect your elders, and the world will respect you