19 JUNE 2022 /


“Every year, one in six people aged 60 years and older experience some form of abuse – a trend that is expected to continue with rapid population ageing in many countries,” reports UN News on 15 June 2022, the day on ‘World Elder Abuse Awareness Day’.

“Elder abuse is a violation of human rights’.  It includes physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, but also financial and material abuse, abandonment, neglect, and serious loss of dignity and respect. 

Abuse of older people is an injustice, which can have serious consequences, including premature mortality, physical injuries, depression, cognitive decline and poverty,” Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department of Social Determinants of Health said. 

“The global population is greying as the number of people aged 60 and above will more than double in the coming decades, rising from 900 million in 2015 to around two billion in 2050. 

Like many other forms of violence, elder abuse has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, two in three staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities admitted to committing abuse over the past year. Despite the growing issue, abuse of older persons remains largely absent from the global health agenda,” the WHO said. 

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), designated as 15 June has been recognised as a UN Day by the General Assembly in 2011. This year WEAAD coincides with two important events, the beginning of the UN Decade of  Healthy ageing and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA)’s fourth review in which the governments agreed to link questions of ageing to social and economic parameters and protect human rights. Each member state is encouraged to report on progress in implementing MIPAA and an international monitoring procedure will be initiated. An expert panel will monitor overall trends of violence against older persons and highlight the gaps in the implementation of MIPAA and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets of Agenda 2030.

The UNECE Ministerial Conference on Ageing presented five priorities to combat violence against older persons in the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021 – 2030) at Rome after extensive consultation with experts and stakeholders.

The 5th UNECE Ministerial Conference at Rome adopted the Declaration “a Sustainable Society for All Ages: Joining Forces for Solidarity and Equal Opportunities throughout life” and decided to achieve its three main policy goals by 2027. Some of the decisions are:

·        facilitate older persons’ participation in policy- and decision-making, in social and cultural life, and combat loneliness and social isolation

·        invest in health promotion and in the creation of more age-friendly environments

·        protect older persons form violence and abuse

·        promote age-friendly digitalisation, products and services, and support innovation for the silver economy

·    Ensuring access to long-term care and support for carers and families which includes  integrated and person-centred care, which ensures       independence, and dignity in care  also adopt, update and implement policies addressing dementia and supporting the caregivers of persons with dementia

 The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947. The other Commissions were also organised for the economic integration and sustainable development of the regions of Asia and Pacific, Western Asia, Latin America and Caribbean and Africa.

“Combatting ageism is a top priority as it is a major reason why abuse of older people receives scant attention, while more and better data is needed to raise awareness of the problem. 

Countries must also develop and scale up cost-effective solutions to stop abuse, and to make the “investment case” on how addressing the issue is money well spent.  Relatedly, more funds are needed to tackle the problem,” reports the UN News on the priorities to tackle abuse of older people.

“Abuse of older people can happen anywhere. It occurs in homes, in long-term care facilities, even online. Many internet scams are targeted towards scamming older people,” WHO cautioned in a tweet on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

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