The silent drama of abuse against the elderly

It is estimated that by 2050 cases of abuse will reach 320 million

The silent drama of abuse against the elderly

According to the United Nations, the number of people over 60 is expected to double by 2050, from 900 million in 2015 to around 2,000 million; which becomes an important opportunity to talk about what it is happening with older adults in the world, especially how society treats them.

Leer en español: El silencioso drama del abuso contra los adultos mayores

The abuse of the elderly refers to any action or omission that causes harm and that violates the respect for their dignity and the exercise of their rights as a person. This is not limited to physical damage, but includes psychological, patrimonial, sexual abuse, neglect, and negligence on the part of the caregivers.

The figures are alarming. In Buenos Aires, according to figures from the government program "Protect", 1278 cases of abuse were received last year. In Colombia, the National Institute of Legal Medicine reported that between January and November 2017, 528 adults over 60 years of age were murdered. Globally, it is estimated that one in six elderly people suffer from abuse. In other words, if the population growth trend continues, the number of victims could reach 320 million.

However, eradicating this problematic becomes difficult when because it is treated so silently by all of society. On the one hand, victims are afraid to report their relatives for the consequences they may have and, on the other hand, professionals feel uncomfortable asking about family violence or attribute the signs of abuse to dementia or delusions typical of old age.

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For the sociologist Fernando Cantor, "this is fundamentally a matter of education, which should start from the parents with their children, who should be taught that they should be respected, but also respect the grandparents and the elderly who are in their environment, recognizing that they are vulnerable and require special care."

How to know if a person is being abused?

1. Physical symptoms such as bruises, cuts, burns, broken bones or drug overdoses.
2. Poor personal hygiene given inadequate attention by caregivers.
3. Signs of malnutrition and lack of important medical aid for old age.
4. The person shows fear, depression, crying, anxiety and nervousness. He is not able to look in the eyes, shows great apathy and has regressions such as rocking and sucking.
5. Deterioration of the socio-economic level of the person or ignorance of their financial movements.

So, knowing that this type of abuse may be closer than you imagine, look for the resources offered by your community to act against violence against older people, such as programs of protection services for older people, which they normally manage through Social and Health Services.


National Center on Elder Abuse
1-855-500-3537 (free line)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Prosecutor's Office National line: 018000816999

LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda báez
Translated from “El silencioso drama del abuso contra los adultos mayores”