International Elder abuse day is celebrated on 15 June. On this day we try make people aware that many elderly people are victims of abuse. If we don’t speak out against this terrible evil no change will happen.


Below is an article I wrote for The Crest magazine and I thought I would share it with you all.


Elder abuse is a continuing problem not only in retirement homes but in the community as well. On the 15th of June the staff will be viewing a DVD on elder abuse to remind us of our role in protecting the elderly and how easily abuse can take place. All our staff at The Hills retirement Community will wear purple ribbons – the colour for elder abuse. We will have a morning prayer service at the Home where we will be praying for those who have been abused and for an end to this problem. The Hills is also fitted with cameras which protect our residents and assist the staff.


Abuse of the elderly we often think of as physical abuse but there are many other forms of abuse. Where a person’s basic needs are not met, this is abuse, so the simple act of not getting someone water is abuse. These subtle forms of abuse are more common than physical abuse. Other forms of abuse are verbal – an example of this is name calling “you eat like a baby”, emotional – an example of this is threatening them “if you do that again I won’t visit you again”, neglect  – this is where the elderly is left without assistance, financial abuse – where the elderly persons pension or funds are used for the carers or family needs and not for the care of the person, we often see the elderly person malnourished, dirty and neglected and their pensions are spent on the family. Theft is also part of financial abuse, and lastly sexual abuse.

Active abuse is often easier to stop and control as the perpetrator knows what they are doing is wrong. In these cases the abuse can be reported to the police or social services. The perpetrator will be charged. Passive abuse is more difficult to see and is often due to ignorance. In these cases the family/carer needs training and support.


The community can play a part in reducing elder abuse by reporting any abuse to the social worker at the community clinic. If a neighbour is being abused or there is knowledge of abuse it must be reported. In schools the children can be educated about the elderly during LO classes. The value of elderly people must be uplifted so that children see them as valued members of our community. The contributions they have made during their working lives needs to be celebrated. TAFTA organise a peaceful march against elder abuse in Durban starting at the City Hall, which makes the media and public more aware of this problem. The march will be held on Tuesday the 13 June, starting at 9:00, the community should be encouraged to support the march, schools and churches can advertise this event. All nurses and medical workers at homes and hospitals can be asked to wear purple ribbons on the 15 June and maybe soon the purple ribbon will be as well-known as the pink or red one.


Warm regards to you all

– Hilary