WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS DAY
Today June 15 is being observed internationally as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and its theme, “Access to Justice", serves to remind us of the importance of addressing the needs of older persons.
The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) joins the entire world in voicing its opposition to any form of abuse against the older generations and in promoting a better understanding of elder abuse by raising awareness of the social, economic and cultural processes which affect them.
Elder abuse, which encompasses violence, abuse and neglect, is the most hidden and under reported epidemic in many countries, Barbados included. The UN Plan of Action describes it as a public health and a human rights issue.
The world population is aging and the statistics show that the Barbados population is aging at a faster rate than some other countries.
We however have no register of complaints and reported cases that we can turn to and compare statistics from one year to the next, but we know from anecdotal evidence that the problem exists and it is real. There is anecdotal evidence also that the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to social isolation, has exacerbated the incidence of elder abuse.
In order to deal with a problem, we need to know through research and analysis the extent of the problem. This is why the mantra, “See Something, Say Something”, is very relevant as it relates to the scourge of elder abuse. We are not intruding if we speak out but rather doing our civic duty. We are aware that there is a hotline to report issues of elder abuse and urge that this be made use of.
BARP sees an urgency in the Ombudsman’s office focusing on issues of elder abuse as a category, in as much as it relates to a violation of human rights, but also in the area of conflict resolution.
And we must add another mantra: "Break the Cycle". It may sound trite, but the Youth will soon become Elders and the abuse any of them mete out to their elders will in turn be meted out to them, because our children learn from us.
BARP subscribes to the principle that a society is measured by how it treats its elderly citizens and urges Barbadians to be the best society it can be by ensuring that our seniors lead a life of independence and dignity.