The abuse of elderly people constitutes a violation of the right to life, the most basic human right, said the director of an elderly care center.
“Elder abuse may not be revealed unless there is physical violence and attempted murder, as in other cases of violence.
“Elder abuse means violating the most basic human right, the right to life of the elderly,” Dr. Emine Ozmete, the head of the Center on Aging Studies Implementation and Research at Ankara University, told Anadolu Agency on the occasion of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
#COVID19 lockdown measures have resulted in increased violence, abuse & neglect of older persons.
— United Nations (@UN) June 14, 2021
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has been observed every year as an annual international UN observance day on June 15 since December 2011.
The main purpose of the day is to take action to effectively prevent and protect older people from physical and psychological abuse, including neglect.
Ozmete, also the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ankara University, described elder abuse as a multidimensional phenomenon with physical, emotional, and economic aspects.
“Elder abuse is to abuse, harm, and inflict pain on the elderly person physically, emotionally, or spiritually,” Ozmete said.
She noted that in addition to violent behavior, elder abuse also includes being exposed to attitudes of age discrimination or other types of stereotypes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.”
“Rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with two in three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year,” WHO noted.
Elder abuse during COVID-19 pandemic
For the last two years, the day has been under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of elderly people.
WHO said rates of elder abuse have increased during the outbreak that has affected the whole world since December 2019.
“It is estimated that the existing rates of elderly neglect and abuse are on the rise and new abuse cases have emerged as everyone stays together at homes for longer periods amid the pandemic,” Ozmete said.
She added that “there have been limitations in building evidence on this because this type of phenomena, including abuse, discrimination, and violence, are usually hidden between two or a few people in the household so it is difficult to measure and reveal elder abuse.
“It has been difficult to speak on the basis of evidence that the rate of elder abuse has increased during the pandemic. A limited number of studies could be conducted on this subject.”
Turkey protects its elderly
Turkey’s elderly population, aged 65 years and over, reached nearly 8 million as of the end of 2020, according to the country’s statistical authority.
Ozmete underlined that during the pandemic, Turkey has provided a high level of protection for its elderly people with all its resources and institutions.
Giving examples of Turkey’s work in this field, she noted: “Quarantine organizations have been established by the Family and Social Services Ministry for the elderly who are sick or have contact with the outside. The elderly were followed in these quarantine establishments. The Health Ministry firstly vaccinated people aged 65 and over, protecting them against the disease.”
“With Vefa Support Program run by the Interior Ministry, the needs of all citizens, especially the elderly staying at home, were met,” she added.