Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), an Abuja based NGO, has said that care and love for older persons is imperative and key to reclaiming the society’s lost heritage.
Ms May Ikokwu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the group, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the occasion of International Day against Elder Abuse in Abuja on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Elder Abuse Awareness day is celebrated every year on June 15 to raise the voice on caring for elders.
Elder abuse is a global social issue that affects the Health and Human Rights of millions of older persons around the world.
The day was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly.
NAN reports that Elder abuse is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.
An older adult is someone aged 60 or older. The abuse occurs at the hands of a caregiver or a person the elder trusts.
Ikokwu, who restated the need to end elder abuse, urged the society to always listen to older adults and their caregivers to understand their challenges and provide support.
“Report abuse or suspected abuse to local adult protective services, or the police where there is a desk officer for Elder Abuse. Use the National Senior Citizens’ Centre (NSCC), government agencies, state laws, and other resources.
“Educate oneself and others about how to recognize and report elder abuse, given that worldwide one in six older adults are abused but only about 4 per cent of cases of elder abuse are reported,” she said.
She explained that elder abuse ranged from abandonment, neglect, physical abuse and others capable of leading to psychological trauma and death.
The Chief Executive Officer therefore, expressed the need for the society to provide over-burdened caregivers with support such as help from friends, family, or local relief care groups.
Ikokwu called on the society to resist all forms of elder abuses, including financial abuse or stereotypes, to preserve and protect elders whom she described as God-given heritages.
She explained: “Physical abuse is when an elder experiences illness, pain, injury, functional impairment, distress
It can also be “death as a result of the intentional use of physical force and includes acts such as pushing, slapping etc.”
She said others included “humiliation or disrespect, verbal and non-verbal threats, harassment, and geographic or interpersonal isolation.”
“Financial Abuse is the illegal, unauthorised or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.”
According to the SOHI boss, older women are not spared from the sexual abuse suffered by younger women, such as rape and being forced to undress and these tend to cause psychological trauma in the victims.