Our laws should protect the elderly – Group advocates

The Guardians of Gray Masters Foundation, a not-for-profit institution, is advocating early passage of Ghana’s National Aged Bill to protect and promote the rights and well-being of older persons. The global population of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people by 2050, and this growth is expected to be faster in developing countries Yet, research has shown elderly abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens around the world. World Health Organization data suggests that 4 to 6 per cent of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported. In Ghana, the Guardians of Gray Masters Foundation has observed a growing trend of elder abuse. “The aged are physically assaulted, spiritually maligned and emotionally bruised in various ways” says Abigail Appiah, Executive Director of the Foundation. “These abuses occur in homes, within communities, in health care institutions, around religious space and other places in society”. The United Nations has designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to draw global attention to the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of the aged. The Guardians of Gray Masters wants the battle to end elder abuse to be a concern to every individual as the young shall grow – both the rich and the poor. “Fighting elder abuse is fighting for the comfort of our future; in our old age. The crusade of ensuring the government puts in the right policies and laws to protect the old aged should be upheld by all,” said Abigail.

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Spiritual Abuse The Foundation is concerned some elders are branded as witches and subjected to physical and verbal attacks; some are beaten to death, others are regarded as outcast, neglected or sacked from their homes and sent unto the streets or prayer camps. Some religious leaders poison the minds of the youth to believe the elderly in the house are the source of all their predicaments. The Foundation challenges young people need to learn the habit of solving problems, thinking and bringing out innovative ideas and acting on them to make a good living and not blame others for their failure. Financial Abuse The aged are also robbed of their hard earned savings by both family caretakers and non-family service providers. Elders who are not capable of accessing their accounts as a result of health-related conditions or accidents that render them incapacitated are the mercy of caretakers. The unscrupulous ones end up squandering the cash of the elders, rendering them bankrupt and eventually leaving them to suffer in pain and death. Unfriendly Infrastructure The Foundation also says Ghana’s system of infrastructure development in building construction is mostly elderly unfriendly. “There are storey buildings with three to five or more floors without lifts or escalators. Most elderly people walk with an aid like the walking stick an as a result of poor health are unable to access some of these structures,” it observed. Being burdened to climb higher floors to access a service is not the best and the situation is worse for elders who suffer physical disability.
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Service Conditions The elderly queue with young active people to access services that may be crucial to their welfare, especially for health and financial services. With few exceptions, elders are not as active and strong as the youth and therefore need to access speedy services by service supervisors. The theme for the year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is “Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights Issue.” The theme will explore effective means of strengthening protections against financial and material exploitation, including by improving the understanding of this form of elder abuse and discussing ways of ensuring the participation of older adults themselves in ending victimization. By Kofi Adu Domfeh|TV3|3news.com|Ghana]]>