As children and during our formative years, we cherished the moments spent with our grandparents. From them, we imbibed invaluable life lessons simply by being in their presence and hearing them recount their life experiences. However, as we grow older and become engrossed in the demands of our lives, we often overlook the significance of our elders.
In many households, elders can, unfortunately, become perceived as burdens with no apparent place to go, leading them to be left alone at home. The younger generation tends to forget that these very individuals were the ones who once catered to their every need when they were young. Regrettably, this oversight can turn into a form of neglect or abuse.
To address and raise awareness about such abuse towards the elderly, the United Nations has designated the 15th of June each year as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).
History of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
The United Nations General Assembly officially recognized the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in December 2011 after receiving a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). The United Nations declared this day by passing a resolution 66/127.
According to the United Nations, every 1 in 6 elder experiences some form of abuse in their every life. Every year there is a considerable increase in the number of elders in society. This number is expected to keep growing in the next ten years. With the growth in the number of elders, the abuse rate towards them is also likely to rise. Keep this point in view; the recognition of this day and its importance becomes critical.
Significance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Abuse of any form against older people is a crime. They deserve more respect and care in society. Any abuse against them can leave long-term physiological effect along with severe physical injuries. This is a global social issue that needs to be addressed with immediate effect.
It is about protecting the social and human rights of older people in society. Whether it is our parents or somebody else’s, every older adult deserves respect for their contribution to making the younger generation what they are today.
With the increase in population, in the next 20 years, the older generation will outnumber the younger generation. With this, it becomes critical for us to protect the elders from any abuse.
According to the World Health Organization data, 4 to 6 percent of the elders suffer from some form of abuse and a large percentage of which goes unreported. This day is an effort in recognizing that there is such a thing called elder abuse and working towards controlling such abuse.
The United Nations also observes an International Day for the Elderly on October 1st every year to recognize and applaud the elders’ contributions to society. Themes recognized by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) to bring about awareness are:
- The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2024 theme is “Create a world for all ages.”
- “Moving from Awareness to Action through a Human Rights-based approach.”
- “Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older people. A human Rights issue.”
Let us be more protective and respectful of our elders. We should help them find respect and love in society. Our homes are happiest when they are a combination of blessings and wisdom from the elders, along with mindfulness, respect, and love for them. Elders living in communities and institutes often experience more abuse than those living in society.
Let us keep an eye on elderly individuals around us. Let us be their source of strength and make them more aware of their human rights. In times of need, this awareness can be invaluable. Let us prioritize being respectful and loving rather than abusive. We are here today because they were there for us in our yesterdays.”