By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 16 Jun: “There is an urgent need to sensitise the younger generation towards treating elderly people with respect, attending to their emotional, economic and medical needs and develop an empathetic understanding towards their well-being and mental and physical health,” said Doon University Vice Chancellor Professor Surekha Dangwal, today.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day organised by Department of Social Work and Department of Psychology, Doon University, in collaboration with HelpAge India, Professor Dangwal said, “Today the youth are at a stage where society is undergoing transformation and, hence, we should inculcate in them the culture of respect and sensitivity towards our elders.”
“Elder abuse comprises not only physical violence against them but also neglect, passive attitude, disrespect and lack of sensitivity towards this section of population which is increasingly being ignored and the crisis goes unrecognised and unreported,” she pointed out, adding that in the coming decades proportionally India will have more elderly persons than today.
HelpAge India’s State Head Chaitanya Upadhyay presented various details with regard to the issues faced by elderly people. He said that many among elders are able and willing to work even after retirement and an ecosystem should be created to harness their potential for their contribution, well-being and a meaningful long life.
Professor Harsh Dobhal said that ageing is unavoidable and irreparable biological process and there are various problems that ageing brings including health issues, financial problems, dependence on others and emotional needs. “Today’s youth are at a critical juncture in their life where there are at a cultural cross-roads. In the process they are losing the ability and sensitivity to engage with their grandparents for whom they have no time. We need to make our youth aware and sensitise them to the needs of the elderly,” he added.
Dr Rajesh Bhatt from the Psychology Department said that, with the process of ageing, a number of mental health issues also crop up. In India, mental health is still associated with some sort of stigma and old people more often do not even know that they are suffering from any mental health issues. “We urgently need to recognise this and find solutions,” Dr Bhatt said.
Dr Naresh Mishra from Department of Social Work said that the neglect and abuse of elders is a serious social issue and can lead to a serious crisis if not attended.
As per the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”. It is a global social issue which affects the Health and Human Rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.
Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally. Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries — ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands a global multifaceted response, one which focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.
A number of civil society organisations participated in the programme. An open session witnessed a series of presentations from a number of elderly people from the city.