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We all know elderly people are most vulnerable during Covid-19, the mortality rate of the elderly is higher than others, but do we really taking care of the elderly in our family or just taken for granted? Even if we think that we are taking care of them, are we taking into consideration of their perception of care or imposing our decisions/opinions on them? National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), National Commission for Women (NCW), and WHO, report during Covid-19 illuminated the increasing rate of domestic violence which includes women and child-related domestic violence but ignored domestic violence against elderly people. The reason behind that is the issue of elder abuse is still unrecognized and not adequately acknowledged as a community apprehension irrespective of pre-, intra-, and post-Covid-19 scenarios.

Mistreatment of the elderly is referred to as ‘elder abuse’. Elderly abuse is done either by an individual person, institution, community, or larger society. Abuse may be done either once or repeatedly.

There are different forms of abuse of the elderly. Physical abuse is the first form that is related to the cautious acts leading to physical harm, including beating, hitting, slapping, and pushing an elder person. Verbal abuse consists of the intended actions mainly in form of words, including insulting or using filthy language, shouting, and unnecessary blaming of an elder. Economic/material abuse is related to any premeditated action that involves illegal or non-authorized use of an elder person’s economic/material resources, falsifying their signature, or forcing them to sign documents, which may lead to financial or material losses. Sexual abuse implies any deliberate act which involves forcing sexual activities, including rape, molestation, showing pornographic materials, forcing elder people to commit sexual activities amongst themselves, or kissing an elder person. Neglect is the intentional failure to meet one’s own responsibilities in caring for the elder person, such as denying to attend to their needs while the resources are presented, leaving them alone without any helper. Spiritual abuse comprises a planned action to harm the spiritual well-being of elder people. Examples here include false accusations of elder people as witches/wizards, condemning them to be behind misfortunes in society, or being demonized among others. Political abuse involves harming the civic and political lives of older people, such as forcing or making elderly people vote for a certain political party or candidate in an election, or the intentional use of elderly people’s civic/political documents like national registration cards or voter cards by certain political regimes or parties to make a certain political party or candidate wins an election contrary to the desires of a particular elder.

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Other practices of elder abuse, such as medication abuse, loss of respect, scapegoating (identifying and blaming the elderly; usually elderly widows are blamed for any misfortune), neglect (including isolation, abandonment, and social exclusion), violation of human, legal and medical rights, deprivation of choices, decisions, status, finances and respect, armed conflict, displacement, disasters, and emergencies can also be seen. Various narratives of the elderly showed that instances of burning, scalding, being pushed around, experiencing rough handling, spitting, forcing to eat unappetizing/unwanted food, treating like a servant, keeping older persons’ health at risk, poor and/or no care, putting excessive pressure on the elderly, exposing them to humiliating behavior, institutionalizing them are also forms of abuse.

Detection of elder abuse is tough. Elder abuse is difficult to document and quantify because there are several factors that lead to the lack of recognition and insignificance of elder abuse. First, in many countries, people believe that elder abuse occurs somewhere other than in their own society. Moreover, people of Eastern societies are convinced that elder abuse is associated with Western societies. Moreover, elder abuse has not achieved the same national disgrace that would lift up it to an urgent social problem and coalesce support for addressing it, as other forms of family violence, i.e. child and women abuse. The lack of a national data collection system regarding elder abuse relates to failing of understanding the existence and prevalence of elder abuse and fails to respond. In addition, ageism, i.e. negative attitude towards the elderly, contributes to indifference toward their mistreatment.

Elder abuse has long been an unseen problem in our society. Abuse of the elderly is a growing challenge in all societies. There is an urgent need for anti-abuse strategies, namely: raising voices against abuse, approaching the Senior Citizens Association to help and guide; registering a complaint with the police (the police should also register the complaint without any delays and harassment); contacting counselors to help deal with the abuse; promoting good interpersonal relationships between generations; elderly can make SHG for active aging, awareness, and education; people need to be educated to perceive the elderly favorably, start savings from a young age, practice healthy food habits, yoga (for an active living); health insurance; empowerment of elders through an income generation program, structural solutions, i.e. effective policies – effective and proper implementation of the laws by the law enforcing agencies and the role of media should help to create a positive image of elders in society and, in addition, consideration of elder abuse as important social problem and strong action against abuse. All of these are important strategies against elder abuse.

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors” – Tia Walker.


  1. Bose, Ashish and Shankardass, Mala Kapur (2004). Growing Old in India: Voices Reveal and Statistics Speak. India: B. R. Publishing Co.
  2. HelpAge International (2011). HelpAge International’s Submission for the Consultation on the Human Rights of Older Persons: Follow-Up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing. London: HelpAge International.
  3. Puri Kiran (2007). The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Bill 2007 and the Ageing Women & Widows. Research and Development Journal, Special Edition, Vol. 13, No. 3, October.
  4. Wolf, R. S. (2000). The Nature and Scope of Elder Abuse: Changes in Perspective and Response over the Past 25 Years. Generations 24(2): 6−12.

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