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WHO: Abuse of older people on the rise

A study by WHO and Lancet Global Health found that almost 16% of people aged 60 years and older were subjected to psychological abuse.

Picture: pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN – The abuse of older people is on the rise, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

About 1 in 6 older people experience some form of abuse. This figure is higher than previously estimated and is predicted to rise.

A study by WHO and Lancet Global Health found that almost 16% of people aged 60 years and older were subjected to either psychological abuse (11.6%), financial abuse (6.8%), neglect (4.2%), physical abuse (2.6%) or sexual abuse (0.9%).

The findings are based on research from 52 studies in 28 countries, including 12 low- and middle-income countries.

WHO’s Alana Officer says that more needs to be done to address the issue.

"We must do much more to prevent and respond to the increasing frequency of different forms of abuse."

While awareness about elder abuse has increased, the topic is still largely taboo.

“Despite the frequency and the serious health consequences, elder abuse remains one of the least investigated types of violence in national surveys, and one of the least addressed in national plans to prevent violence.”

WHO estimates that the number of people aged 60 and over will double to reach two billion globally by 2050, with most older people living in low- and middle-income countries.

The organisation has called on communities to protect older people and raise awareness around elder abuse.

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