Today, on ‘World Elder Abuse Awareness Day’ HelpAge India released a nationwide report titled ‘Elder Abuse – The Indian Youth Speaks Out’.
Over the past few years HelpAge India has been conducting detailed surveys to understand this growing crime against India’s elders, by getting the elder perspective, their understanding and experiences. Shockingly, in 2014, half of India’s elderly (50%) surveyed reported experiencing abuse. 77% lived with their families.
The Abuser? – Their own child. The most common assumption that in old age the Son would be the main caregiver was completely shattered. The Son along with the Daughter-in-law turned out to be the primary abusers. Today’s Young Adults.
It was therefore now time to understand the mindset of the Young Adult – their perspective. Therefore, this year HelpAge conducted an extensive 10 city survey among young working adults in the age bracket of 25 to 45 years, living with at least 1 elderly parent. The survey was conducted by MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems, an expert in Youth research surveys.
Cities surveyed: Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Kanpur, Madurai. A sample size of 200 households were selected from 20 middle and upper middle localities in each city.
The survey hopes to ascertain what the youth think of Elder Abuse – does it at all happen, what makes it happen, who or what causes it and what can any of us do to help/prevent abuse.
“What is surprising is that the Youth of today ARE aware of problem, they understand the reasons which precipitate abuse. They have clear solutions on how to avert abuse, but yet seem unwilling to Act. Take the case of Delhi where 85% of the youth admit Elder Abuse exists yet 92% say that they won’t Act to prevent it. Our aim is to sensitize and engage young adults and urge them to take a stand against this heinous crime by being Change agents” – said Manjira Khurana, Country Head, Advocacy & Communications, HelpAge India.
Nationally, 73% of the youth admit that Elder Abuse exists. 42% feel that it is a problem of all developing societies, including India. 83% perceive that identifying Elder Abuse in the neighborhood is not difficult.
The youth experience of coming across ‘instances of Elder Abuse’ is as high as 32.5% among relatives, followed by 21% friends and 20% neighbors.
The Youth perception and elder reality is very different when it comes to who the abuser is. While 24% of the Youth perceive the Son as an abuser, the Elder experience blames the son in 59% of cases.
The daughter-in-law remains the primary abuser be it Youth Perception or Elder Reality.
The Abuser starts early. As per youth experience, the Abuser is in the age bracket of 18 to 34 primarily in the middle income households.
72.4 % of the youth feel that the topmost form of abuse they have come across in their experience is ‘Using Abusive Language and talking rudely to an elder’ followed by 43.1%, who feel it is giving the elder ‘the silent treatment, isolation and emotional abuse.’ A shocking find is that 29% Youth feel that ‘Physical Abuse and beating up’ is a common type of abuse and 30% feel it is ‘being denied the basics, medicines and material abuse.’
Nationally, ‘Property and inheritance disputes’ emerges as the main reason for abuse at 53.2%. But what is interesting to note, is that 35.7% feel that ‘Attitudinal and relationship issues’ is also an important reason.
While financial reasons are the most perceived factor causing Elder Abuse, the youth are stressing only behavioral solutions for families to prevent abuse, with the top measure being ‘Family spending adequate time with the elders (32%)’ followed by ‘Elders opinions given due importance (29%)’.
As measures that ‘Elders’ should take to prevent abuse 67.5% of the respondents at an all-city level said that elders should stay social and active and 31.5% said that they should keep their finances organized.
Most of the abusers were rated by respondents as of sound mind as well as sound health, so clearly Elder Abuse was intentional and voluntary.
86.9% Youth advocate living in large joint families as a measure to prevent Elder Abuse, in today’s social scenario of a rising graph of nuclear families.
Nationally, nearly 60% Youth are willing to take direct action if they came across a case of abuse by talking to the abuser asking them to change their behavioural pattern and talking to the abused, asking them to fight back. Yet there are cities such as Delhi where 92% are not willing to intervene, followed by Chennai with 64% and Hyderabad with 45%.
The report highlights the biggest gap of all in the reality and existence of elder abuse, which is that – If the youth are so sensitive to the issue of elder abuse then why is Elder Abuse so widely prevalent, with 50% elders claiming so and holding the Youth of today responsible for their condition? A question that still needs an answer.
About HelpAge India
HelpAge India is a leading charitable organization working with and for older people in India for the past 37 years. It runs age care programmes throughout the country & advocates strongly for the cause of the elderly and fights for their rights. It also advises & facilitates the Government in formation of policy related to the elderly.