Building Strong Support For Elders
At Dementia Alliance International, we prepare to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), a day designated as 15 June.
WEAAD was initiated by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) in 2006, and recognised as a United Nations Day by the General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/66/127 adopted in 2011.
The resolution invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe this day in an appropriate manner.
“I call upon Governments and all concerned actors to design and carry out more effective prevention strategies and stronger laws and policies to address all aspects of elder abuse. Let us work together to optimize living conditions for older persons and enable them to make the greatest possible contribution to our world.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Elder Abuse does not have to be physical. Elder abuse covers emotional, social, financial, sexual abuse as well as neglect.
Those most likely to experience elder abuse and least likely to advocate for themselves are older persons, and especially those who live with dementia. It is a fact that Elder Abuse is more likely to occur when family members or care partners find themselves in times of great stress or worry, making people with dementia doubly vulnerable.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said elder abuse is a serious issue that is likely to have become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on international indicators, it is likely that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence possibly higher during a time when people living with dementia were isolating at home,” Ms McCabe said.
Addressing Elder Abuse
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.
In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem.
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.
From a health and social perspectives, unless both primary health care and social service sectors are well equipped to identify and deal with the problem, elder abuse will continue to be underdiagnosed and overlooked.” (United Nations 2021)
Here at DAI we support our members through peer to peer support groups, online cafes, educational webinars and other information, as well as working on the world stage to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with a diagnosis of dementia, as well as raising awareness of dementia as a human right issue along with other disabilities and diagnoses. Helping members to stay connected and to have trusted confidants outside their own family is a proven way to reduce the incidence of elder abuse to yourself or your loved ones.
By doing so, you will make a tangible difference to the day to day lives of people with dementia. Thank you.
For World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, you may wish to attend this important virtual CoSP Side Event:
Access to justice
Virtual Event, Tuesday 15 June 2021 at 09:00-10:15 EST (NY), 15:00-16:15 CEST (Geneva)
This year’s theme is Access to Justice. COVID-19 highlighted distressing reports of abuse and neglect of older persons in long-term care institutions and in the community where the majority of older persons live. Older persons who have experienced situations of violence, abuse and neglect face multiple barriers in accessing judicial remedies such as issues of accessibility, affordability, excessive delays and backlogs in judicial processes, impact of digitalization, gender bias, discrimination, and entrenched ageism in policy, norms and practices. Access to justice is a fundamental right in itself and an essential prerequisite for the protection and promotion of all human rights.
An expert panel will discuss ways to overcome the barriers and showcase examples of access to justice by older persons who suffered violence, abuse and neglect, including during the current COVID 19 pandemic.
- Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons
- Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Special Envoy of the UN SG on Disability and Accessibility
- Etienne Krug, Director of the department of Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization
- Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (TBC)
- Natasa Todorovic, Health and Care Program Manager, Red Cross of Serbia and INPEA Europe
- Bill Mitchell, Principal Solicitor, Townsville Community Law Inc, Australia
Silvia Perel-Levin, INPEA representative to the UN and Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva
The event will be accessible with sign language and captioning and it will have French, Spanish, German, Serbian and Russian interpretation. It will also be webcast on http://webtv.un.org