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UN expert urges everyone to report elder abuse
United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, has warned that action taken to stop elder abuse around the world has been insufficient.
Kornfeld-Matte called on everyone to promptly report whenever a case of elder abuse is suspected.
“One in ten elder persons experience abuse every month. So, tomorrow it may well be you,” she was quoted as saying while speaking ahead of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that falls on Wednesday (June 15).
Elder abuse occurs anywhere in institutional settings, but often also at home, and it affects elder persons across all socio-economic groups, according to a message received here from Geneva on Tuesday.
The UN expert said manifestations of elder abuse include physical violence, sexual or emotional abuse, abandonment, and neglect, as well as financial or material exploitation.
“One of the reasons for lack of action is that most people would rather not think of themselves as frail and dependent and, therefore, do not feel concerned. For others, it may be inconceivable that those who are closest to them today - their beloved ones - may be the perpetrators of tomorrow,” said the expert.
The older persons who are physically restrained, left in soiled clothes, overmedicated, or emotionally neglected may not speak up for fear of reprisals or to protect relatives from criminal prosecution, she added.
She stressed that is therefore essential to continue to raise awareness to help prevent some abuse cases and to ensure that those that take place are immediately reported.
Warning signs can include unexplained bruises, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration, unexplained changes of alertness and sudden changes in finances and accounts, said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte.
“On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I urge everyone who suspects a case of elder abuse: report your concerns,” she added.
In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed June 15 as the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is marked annually.