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  • The senior's role is particularly important to African society as the elderly are the sole caregivers to 50 percent of the region’s orphans.

    The senior's role is particularly important to African society as the elderly are the sole caregivers to 50 percent of the region’s orphans. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 March 2019

Over 15 percent of seniors are victims of some type of abuse, although only an estimated 20 percent of cases are reported.

Abuse is one of the most underreported crimes perpetrated against senior citizens and members of the Common Age Africa Conference say bringing awareness is the first step to addressing the problem.

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During Tuesday’s conference, Nirupa Kasserchun, a representative of the NGO, The Association for the Aged (Tafta), said, “Fear dominates all elderly of voicing their cases. This could have an extremely negative effect if there is no additional support system to protect them from abuse.

“Neglect relates to any passive or active behaviour resulting in an elder’s basic rights to shelter, food and safety not being met. Passive neglect is unintentional and can be the result of an overwhelmed family member or caregiver or an under-trained caregiver. Active neglect is an intentional disregard for the needs of a senior,” Kasserchun said.

More than 15 percent of seniors over the age of 60 are victims of some type of abuse, although only an estimated 20 percent of cases are reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

“Elder abuse has serious consequences for individuals and society including serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, increased risk of nursing home placement, use of emergency services, hospitalization and death,“ the WHO said.

“Urgent public health action is needed to protect the rights of older persons. Approaches to prevent, detect and address elder abuse need to be placed within a cultural context and considered alongside culturally specific risk factors,” the international organization said on its official website.

According to regional reports, Northern and Southern Africa are among the most rapidly aging sectors with the senior community set to expand by 150 million members by 2050, Global aging reports. Their roles is particularly important to African society as the elderly are the sole caregivers to 50 percent of the region’s “double orphans” (minors and dependent students aged 16 to 19 years).

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