DOOR-TO-DOOR KICK STARTS WORLD ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

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By Lwazi September

  • On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), Kwa-Thema residents took to the streets to inform their community about the rights and well-being of elderly individuals, emphasising the importance of recognising and preventing elder abuse.
  • Mandla Cebekhulu, a 70-year-old member of the Ekurhuleni Older Persons Forum (EOPF), highlighted the need for awareness of the living conditions and rights of the elderly. The EOPF addresses various abuse cases, providing crucial support to elderly individuals, including those with disabilities.
  • The EOPF identified five main types of elder abuse—physical, psychological/emotional, financial/material, sexual, and neglect—aiming to educate the community and empower elderly individuals to recognise and prevent these abuses.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is a significant event that highlights the rights and well-being of elderly individuals worldwide. Residents of Kwa-Thema took to the streets to inform and educate their community about WEAAD.

Mandla Cebekhulu, a 70-year-old member of the Ekurhuleni Older Persons Forum (EOPF), emphasised the importance of WEAAD. He noted that it sheds light on the living conditions of elderly people, many of whom are unaware of their rights and the forms of abuse they might face. The EOPF not only addresses abuse cases but also supports elderly individuals with disabilities.

Common issues they encounter include financial abuse, where children or caregivers misuse the elderly person’s SASSA grant money, and neglect, where an elderly person is left alone for days without proper care. Their room may become unhygienic and locked, depriving them of fresh air.

There are five main types of elder abuse:

  1. Physical Abuse: Actions causing injury or physical pain.
  2. Psychological/Emotional Abuse: Actions causing mental or emotional distress.
  3. Financial and Material Abuse: Misuse of money and assets, or obtaining property or money without the elder’s consent.
  4. Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual acts.
  5. Neglect: Failing to meet the basic needs for food, shelter, and safety.

Founded in 2014, the EOPF aims to advocate for the elderly and highlight the laws protecting them. One severe case they handled involved an elderly person left alone with a boy responsible for their care while the boy’s sisters neglected their duties.

Such cases are reported to Social Workers from the Department of Social Development, who provide feedback and work with the EOPF to resolve them. Sometimes, Social Workers from clinics also assist, particularly in cases of psychological abuse.

Cebekhulu stated, “I want the elderly to be aware of their rights, recognise abuse, and prevent it from happening.”

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed annually on June 15. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about the abuse and neglect that many elderly individuals face globally and promoting their rights and well-being. Through various campaigns and educational activities, WEAAD seeks to shed light on these critical issues and encourage communities to take action to protect and respect senior citizens.

 

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