Elders feel unsafe in their own homes

City Crime

In 2023, the number of reported cases of elder abuse increased to 580 in Bangalore compared to 229 cases in 2022.

Bengaluru: Elder abuse cases in Bangalore have seen an 86 percent increase since last year, according to data from the Nightingales Medical Trust.  As of October 2023, 580 cases of elder abuse have been reported. While in 2022, 229 cases were registered, 193 cases were registered in 2021. The cases are increasing due to change in family dynamics and increasing dependency of elders on their family members, said  a representative from the Elders Helpline.

Vinnetha Sankar, managing trustee of Nightingales Medical Trust said that mistreatment of the elderly is more common among elderly women and individuals living in rural areas. “There is a lack of awareness about helpline services. Senior citizens should be informed about their rights to openly address issues that might otherwise go unnoticed,” she said Additionally, the Maintenance Act plays an important role in safeguarding the welfare of senior citizens, she said.

 Shravanthi, who works at the Elderly Helpline, said, “One possible reason for increasing elder abuse cases could be the restrictions placed on the elderly or reduced care provided by children to their parents.” In today’s generation, many individuals are more  involved in their own lives,  and some even neglect their family members, she said. “In old age, people often seek love and care, and unfortunately, they may not receive it,” she added.

 Urvashi, a 60-year-old woman, said, “I’ve been living in the Nightingales Old Age Home for the past two years. I moved here after my son abandoned me because of his anger and the financial burden he might face because of taking care of me. Due to his low income, he started physical violence on me, and eventually left me here against my will.”

Suvarna K.S, a 58-year-old woman, said that she had been living there for the past five months, and feels happy about her current situation. “My son no longer wanted me; he had grown tired of my presence. I’m relieved not to be living with my son and daughter-in-law any longer. They used to verbally abuse me constantly, which became unbearable. One day, I suggested that my son should consider taking me to an old age home, and that’s how I ended up here.”

Varidhi Subramaniam, the administrator of Nightingales Medical Trust, said that they have been receiving an increasing number of calls regarding elder abuse. “In many cases, these senior citizens have suffered from mental abuse or have been neglected by their children,” she said. Many of them are also suffering from conditions like dementia and other diseases, which makes taking care of them very challenging, she added.

Dr. Pushpalatha B., Director at Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services (HFWS) a government department, said “The elderly are confined to their homes and don’t have anyone to talk to, and this loneliness affects them severely.” This situation is not unique to Bangalore; it’s happening all over India, she said. Additionally, for patients with dementia, their children often become frustrated and ultimately leave them in elderly care facilities, she said.

Dr Shravanti, a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), said “I have treated many elderly who were severely mistreated.” The mistreatment of the elderly can be categorized into physical, psychological, or financial abuse, although these abuses are not known to many people, she added.

Elders are not safe in their own home, increasing number of cases questions safety.

The Elders Helpline (1090) is a collaborative effort between the Nightingales Medical Trust and the Bengaluru City Police. Meanwhile, Elderline (14567) is an initiative under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, in partnership with the Department for the Differently Abled and Senior Citizens, Government of Karnataka.

Elders in the city may call numbers 1090 or 8042426565 or 112 to register complaints regarding abuse. They can also contact the WhatsApp number 809500109 or call 14567 for assistance.