Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Elder Abuse Opinion Survey – June 2009 – by SSS

Elder Abuse Opinion Survey – June 2009 – by SSS

In connection with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15th June 2009, Society for Serving Seniors, Secunderabad conducted an online opinion poll. This was done by hosting the questionnaire on opinionpower website, which permits free polls to be conducted. The questionnaire is given in Appendix 1. Announcement of the survey was made in Yahoo group sss-global that is meant exclusively for senior citizens. This group has 525 members and is very active and vibrant with a daily swap of 30 plus messages. In addition to this the URL of the survey was also distributed to members of karmayog, Mumbai group; members of SilverInnings blog; members of verdurez which is again another website for 55plus in India. Thirty five persons participated in the online survey. Additionally, one person sent a private email with a request to maintain confidentiality.

The Questionnaire was a mixture of ‘Either Or’, “select only one among many”, “select as many as appropriate” and a few requiring textual input. Details of Name, Email address were also obtained to send the results to each of the participants.

There was one important free format text query asking participants to give a typical case study of an Elder Abuse incident known to them. There were 15 blanks, 10 case studies, seven generalized comments. One Case study was incomplete and another comment was irrelevant.

The case studies per se are given in Appendix 2. General comments on Elder Abuse are given in Appendix 3.

Answers to other questions that are somewhat quantifiable are summarized here:

a) 91% of the people feel that Elder Abuse occurs in the house. Very few participants think it happens in OAH or Nursing Homes.

b) About the query, whether it is Men or Women that suffer more, the finding is that both suffer almost equally.

c) When asked who abuses most – Care giver or close relatives or Wider circle friends and relative -- 85% felt that the Close relatives (Son / daughter / DIL / SIL) are the worst culprits. Other offenders score about 12-13% only.

d) Asked as to who take action on Elder abuse, 80% feel that the victim himself should act first. Next in importance of taking responsible step comes: Immediate relatives of the victim (61%).

e) When asked to identify the type of Elder Abuse that is more prevalent, 97% opine that Emotional abuse (scolding; not talking) etc is maximum. Neglect (not giving food or attending to physical needs) comes next 72%. Next comes financial abuse (25%). Sexual abuse is relatively rare. I feel that sexual abuse does occur majorly but it goes unreported even among close friends because of embarrassment involved.


Elder abuse is definitely a cause for concern. More and more cases are getting uncovered. All sections of the community must wake up and do their bit, instead of just talking about it on WEAAD. SCAs may start counseling groups to tackle this problem.

Appendix 1

Opinion Poll on Elder Abuse in India

Created by: Dr P Vyasamoorthy of Society for Serving Seniors

Please answer all questions. Kindly be honest.

1. Please give your Contact Details. We will use it only to send you final results.

First Name:

Last Name:


Email Address:


2. Where do you think Elder Abuse mostly Occurs? . choose one only.

At Homes / In nursing Homes / In old Age Homes

3. Which section of Senior Citizens are more vulnerable to abuse? choose one only.

Men / Women

4. Who is the abuser? Choose as many as you feel appropriate.

Care giver, maid or servant
Close realtive - Son daughter SIL, DIL etc
Wider circle - Relatives and friends

5. Who should take immediate cation?
Choose as many as you think are applicable.

Victim himeself / herself
Immdeate relatives friends
NGOs connected with Elders affairs
Govt Dept concerned
Police or Law Enfocrcement Dept
Authority of the place of occurance of EA (OAH etc)

6. What type of Elder abuse is more prevalent, according to you? Select as many as you think are OK

Neglect - Not giving food or attending tp physical needs
Sexual abuse
Financial fraud, cheating
Physical Abuse - beating, man handling
Emotional - scolding, not talking

7. If you can, please give a brief case study. Do not disclose identity of victim or abuser. Details such as victim (age, gender, realtionship with abuser, how long) actual nature of abuse, type, if any solution has been found and applied etc will be useful. Please do not bother about Engish LanguageSpelling grammar etc.

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Appendix 2: Case Studies

Case 1. A 90 yr old widow having two living sons and daughters. No one is willing to keep her with them. When she is with one, both son and daughter in law abuse her. Unfortunately she does not want to shift to Old peoples home.

Case 2. A neighbor of mine here in Chennai, bachelor, College lecturer, retired(63 years) was with his elderly father(more than 85 years) used to beat his father everyday for not taking food or medicines and not listening whatever he says..The only solution was after few months the old man died.

Case 3. I have seen that daughter in laws not talking to their father in law specially when he is a widower and with mother in law where she is widow

Case 4. There was 80 year old man suffering from Dementia and his son had taken over/gifted father's property to himself. He started mistreating the father and neglecting him. Daughter got to know about it and bought father at her place and contacted us we first gave them medical and psycho help and then helped them with legal advisor. But sorry in this period father died and we were helpless. The current law and enforcement agency can help Senior Citizens.

Case 5. A 75 year old Mohinder Kaur in a Punjab village is forced to fend for herself for the past about ten years by her two sons and their wives.

Case 6. Victim : Parents. Abuser : Daughter. Reasons: Not able to transform her anger either with the in-laws or with the better half.

Case 7. After the age of 60 he was sick and unable to earn any more. His sons and daughters in laws scolded him blaming that he was not just with all his sons and giving importance to his daughters.

Case 8. Victims- Old Parents. Father 90 & mother 82 enough pension. Abusers: Son & DIL. Reason: Property. Old grudges against MIL. Place: Bangalore. Son living in father’s house refuses to provide food or look after physical needs. Extreme hatred and non-cooperation. Won’t help replacing mother’s pace maker battery. Recently the son poured water in mother's bed room floor and prayed aloud to GOD that mother must have a fall, fracture and suffer more.

Case 9. Old man aged 89 abused by hired home caregiver for non-cooperation. Daughter was shocked to witness the caregiver forcing the old man to get up by pulling his genitals. Caregiver was immediately dismissed. They never hired any caregiver later. Old man died of other complications a few months later in Care Hospital.

Case 10. Mother gets frequent scolding and abuse from son daughter in law has to been left alone in daytime and no scope of spending time since TV is consciously taken away from home indifference in feeding such as stale leftover food.

Appendix 3: General Comments, observations and feelings

1. It is prevalent every where at different forms and all are generally keep swallowing being at receiving end and helpless condition.

2. over burdening them with domestic responsibilities

3. I have seen several families where people were bed ridden and became a burden to themselves and the family members resulting in abuse when patience is tested and finances become major problem.

4. I along with two of my friends run an old age home for destitute. There are about 15 people there. Almost all of them were left in the lurch by their children after taking the money from them.

5. The abuse is visible & more severe if the Elder does not earn a pension or is not gainfully employed a pensioner or not

6. It is my observation first hand account with several senior citizens abuse starts at home and generally abuse at home only considered as an insult or painful for them after a life long struggle for family they feel more and more neglected. These reasons the young could not tolerate the interference of the old

7. The newspapers are full of it. Sadly it is often the daughter or son or both. It sends shivers down ones spine to even think of the day when one may not be in the best of health & spirits-physically emotionally and or financially. Longevity has brought in its wake hither to rare incidences such as these into the forefront..Each & every senior citizen needs to brace for any & every eventuality especially for those times when one loses ones life partner. One needs to become emotionally strong.

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