One in six older adults abused globally, one in five in India, says WHO

A WHO-supported study found that close to 16% of people aged 60 years and older are psychologically abused, financially exploited, neglected, physically hurt or sexually abused.

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Around one in six older people experience some form of abuse, a number predicted to rise as the global population of people above 60 years more than doubles from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050, said the World Health Organisation. The national estimate for India is one in five people.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Close to 16% of people aged 60 years and older are psychologically abused, financially exploited, neglected, physically hurt or sexually abused, found a WHO-supported study published in the Lancet Global Health that draws data from 52 studies in 28 countries, including India.

The national estimates of past-year abuse prevalence rate varied widely, from between 43.7 in Egypt, 36.2% in China, 29.3% in Spain and 20.8% in India to 2.6% in the UK.

The rates of abuse are higher for older people living in institutions than in the community.

“The abuse of older people is on the rise; for the 141 million older persons worldwide this has serious individual and societal costs,” says Alana Officer, senior health adviser, department of ageing and life course, WHO Geneva.

“Despite the frequency and the serious health consequences, elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national plans to prevent violence.”

ELDER ABUSE
  • Close to one in six persons over age 60 years are abused.
  • Elder abuse may cause physical injuries ranging from minor scratches and bruises to broken bones and head injuries leading to disability to long-lasting depression and anxiety.
  • Psychological abuse: 11.6%
  • Financial abuse: 6.8%
  • Neglect: 4.2%
  • Physical abuse: 2.6%
  • Sexual abuse: 0.9%
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