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Abuse of elderly on the rise

elderly
File photo

Abuse of the elderly has been on the rise over the past decade, according to a report released on Friday.

The report, presented by the Third Age Observatory, highlighted abuse of the elderly on the part of domestic helpers in their homes, nursing home staff, and medical and paramedical staff in public and private staff.

In addition, it notes cases where elderly people are abused even by their own children.

It also notes that ageism is evident “in all forms and at all levels” of society, and highlights issues such as physical abuse, neglect, and economic exploitation, while also noting that many elderly people are afraid to call the police due to potential negative repercussions.

Between January and November this year, the Third Age Observatory received a total of 220 phone calls regarding abuse of the elderly, the vast majority of which were made anonymously.

According to the observatory’s chairman Demos Antoniou, 91 per cent of those phone calls were made concerning physical and emotional abuse, ageism, neglect, or financial exploitation, while the remaining nine per cent concern abuse and neglect of the elderly in specialised institutions and hospitals.

Clarifying the meaning of emotional abuse and ageism in the statistics, he said this category includes “verbal abuse and threats, humiliation, intimidation, belittling, manipulation, and isolating the person from their loved ones.”

He described the stories of abuse told to the Third Age Observatory as “shocking”.

In a number of cases, elderly people signed their estates over to their children, and were then evicted from their homes by their children or placed into nursing homes against their will.

He also referred to another case, in which a domestic helper took nude photographs of an elderly woman and uploaded them to the internet. In another case, a domestic helper failed to administer medication to an elderly woman, resulting in the elderly woman dying.

Domestic workers made up the plurality of abusers of the elderly between January and November, with 40 per cent of calls received by the observatory concerning acts of abuse performed by domestic workers.

Also speaking at the presentation was Professor Constantinos Fellas, who said “the time has come to break the silence around this sensitive issue and for everyone to start talking publicly about the various forms of abuse of the elderly.”

He pointed out that the elderly are the second most vulnerable demographic to abuse, after children, and said that one in six people over the age of 60 globally suffer from some form of abuse.

However, he said, only four per cent of incidences of abuse of the elderly are reported to or recorded by the relevant authorities.

To this end, he emphasised that “effective and systematic recording of cases of abuse is needed so that we can have a complete picture of the magnitude of this problem.”

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