Parents overcome several hurdles and work hard to see their children grow up to be successful. Their children are like pillars to them who will support and love them when they’re old and frail. It is unfortunate how children nurtured by loving parents turn around and become abusers. Although elder abuse is frequent in Indian society, the issue of elder abuse is seldom discussed in our community. It is common to talk rudely to seniors, make snide remarks in public places or mistreat them at home while not realising that the behaviours constitute elder abuse. 

Identifying Elder Abuse

The World Health Organisation defines elder abuse 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.” 

Abuse is not only limited to physical, psychological, or emotional dimensions but also includes sexual, financial and material abuse, neglect, violation of human rights, loss of dignity and respect, and abandonment. 

Elder Abuse In India Gets As High As 61%

The numbers tell a painful truth in a society that worships the elderly and believes abuse is primarily a western problem. In India, the prevalence of elder abuse ranges from 9.6% to 61.7%, and yet it is mostly an underreported issue. Among the elders who reported ill-treatment, 77.3% complained of verbal or emotional abuse that damaged their emotional well-being and self-worth. The tale of people abandoning their parents in far away railway stations or the story of a person exiling their parents for material gain is common in daily newspapers. 

It is estimated that there are 18 million homeless, elderly people in the country. With the elderly population set to rise to 20% by 2050, abandonment will become a serious threat to the well-being of society. 

Dr. G.P Bhagat, who started Saint Hardyal Educational and Orphan Welfare Society (SHEOWS) to look after orphans and abandoned elderlies, recalls how he would find several elderly people lying on the roads, often in mental and physical states that didn’t allow them to care for themselves.

“All my life I have known that elders should be treated like God. And now when I see them lying on the road with hungry stomachs and insects crawling all over them, I can’t believe my eyes. I promised myself that I will do my best to save as many of them as I could. I won’t let them suffer – not on my watch,” – Dr. G.P Bhagat, founder, SHEOWS. 

The Donatekart Social Investment Plan Is A Step In The Right Direction 

While the legal system has stood beside the senior citizens and given them justice in some instances, but that is not enough. The community has to stand beside the elderly and give them the serenity they deserve. There are several NGOs like SHEOWS dedicating their time and efforts towards this cause, and The Donatekart Social Investment Plan (DK-SIP) is the perfect way to support them. By pledging to donate every month to help the elderly, you will:

– Give them the love & care they need during their last years

– Feed them healthy meals

– Ensure they have all the essentials and a family to call their own

Hundreds of elderlies have already benefited from DK-SIP with NGOs like DAVO, SHEOWS and Second Chance Foundation receiving regular groceries like rice, atta, dal, salt and more. 

While the future is set to throw challenges as the ageing population increases, more awareness is needed in social media campaigns regarding elder abuse. Through the continued support of legitimate NGOs and regular donations from supporters, it is possible to make a difference in the lives of the abandoned.

Learn more about DK-SIP here