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August 11, 2011

Abuse of Elderly Growing Social Problem, WHO Says


10 August 2011

Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other experts say the problem of violence against the elderly seems to be growing as the world now has a greater number of nations with aging populations.
More than 10,000 people in 46 countries are subject to physical violence every day, according to “World report on violence and health,” released by WHO this year.

Turkey's Social Health Research and Development Center (TOSAGEM) President Nazmi Zengin discussed the WHO report with the Anatolia news agency on Wednesday. He said although Turkey has been concentrating on the prevention of violence against women, abuse of the elderly is not uncommon. He said the number of reports of older people being subject to physical violence has increased and reached levels that can no longer be ignored.
He said elder abuse had biological, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors. Zengin said the WHO report on people aged 60 and over had some unsettling findings.

“According to the report, 6 million people are subject to physical abuse in 46 countries, including Turkey, on a yearly basis. One million old people are subject to sexual abuse while 29 million are subject to psychological abuse and about 6 million are subject to financial abuse. These figures indicate that elder abuse is a growing problem. Especially in countries with aging populations such as ours, we can say that elder abuse will become a significant problem in terms of society's health over the next 25 years,” he said.
Zengin said in the WHO Europe region, about 8,500 people aged 60 and above had been murdered and that 90 percent of these murders had taken place in poorer countries. He said economic hardship was a major factor in elder abuse.
Zengin said the commonly held view that the elderly are mostly abused in hospitals or homes while those who live with their children or family are less likely to become abuse victims was wrong. “This view cannot be supported by scientific data,” he said. He added that training and education of caretakers working with the elderly was important to prevent abuse.

Data from the WHO report and other studies also indicate that elderly people with physical disabilities or mental disorders are more prone to violence and abuse. He said creating awareness, better social education and tougher inspections could prevent elderly abuse.


SOURCE:   TodaysZaman
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