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ELDER ABUSE IS A PROBLEM
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Objective 2: Support the caregiving role of older persons, particularly older women.

Actions: (a) Encourage the provision of social support, including respite services, advice and information for older caregivers and families under their care; (b) Identify how to assist older persons in caregiving and address specific social, economic and psychological needs; (c) Reinforce the positive role of grandparents in raising grandchildren; (d) Take account of the growing numbers of older caregivers in service provision plans.

Issue 3: Neglect, abuse and violence against older persons take many forms — physical, psychological, emotional, financial — and occur in every social, economic, ethnic and geographic sphere. The process of ageing brings with it a declining ability to heal, so that older victims of abuse may never fully recover physically or emotionally from trauma. The impact of trauma may be worsened because shame and fear cause reluctance to seek help. Communities must work together to prevent abuse, consumer fraud and crimes against older persons. Professionals need to recognize the risk of potential neglect, abuse or violence by formal and informal caregivers both in the home and in community and institutional settings.

Older women face greater risk of...abuse due to discriminatory societal attitudes and non-realization of the human rights of women. Some harmful traditional and customary practices result in abuse and violence directed at older women, often exacerbated by poverty and lack of access to legal protection.

Women’s poverty is directly related to the absence of economic opportunities and autonomy; lack of access to economic resources, including credit, land ownership and inheritance; lack of access to education and support services; and a minimal participation in the decision-making process. Poverty can also force women into situations in which they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Objective 1: Eliminate all forms of neglect, abuse and violence of older persons.

Actions: (a) Sensitize professionals and educate the general public, using media and other awareness-raising campaigns, on the subject of elder abuse and its various characteristics and causes; (b) Abolish widowhood rites harmful to the health and well-being of women; (c) Enact legislation and strengthen legal efforts to eliminate elder abuse; (d) Eliminate harmful traditional practices involving older persons; (e) Encourage cooperation between government and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, in addressing elder abuse by, inter alia, developing community initiatives; (f) Minimize the risks to older women of all forms of neglect, abuse and violence by increasing public awareness, and protecting older women...especially in emergency situations; (g) Encourage further research into the causes, nature, extent, seriousness and consequences of all forms of violence against older women and men and widely disseminate findings of research and studies.

Objective 2: Creation of support services to address elder abuse.

Actions: (a) Establish services for victims of abuse and rehabilitation arrangements for abusers; (b) Encourage health and social service professionals as well as the general public to report suspected elder abuse; (c) Encourage professionals to inform older persons suspected of suffering abuse of the protection and support that can be offered; (d) Include handling of elder abuse in the training of the caring professions; (e) Establish information programmes to educate older persons about consumer fraud.

Issue 4: Images of ageing

A positive view of ageing is an integral aspect of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002. Recognition of the authority, wisdom, dignity and restraint that comes with a lifetime of experience has been a normal feature of the respect accorded to the old throughout history. These values are often neglected in some societies and older persons are disproportionately portrayed as a drain on the economy, with their escalating need for health and support services. Although healthy ageing is naturally an increasingly important issue for older persons, public focus on the scale and cost of health care, pensions and other services has sometimes fostered a negative image of ageing. Images of older persons as attractive, diverse and creative individuals making vital contributions should compete for the public's attention. Older women are particularly affected by misleading and negative stereotypes: instead of being portrayed in ways that reflect their contributions, strengths, resourcefulness and humanity, they are often depicted as weak and dependent. This reinforces exclusionary practices at the local and national levels.

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