Abuse Among Older People: An Invisible Discrimination

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:45 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Jacob John KATTAKAYAM , Sociology, University of Kerala, Trivandrum, India
The forces of globalisation, modernisation and technological change, and the rapid transmission of knowledge have resulted in lifestyle changes and corresponding adjustments in cultural values. Improved healthcare, lifestyle changes and the subsequent increase in life expectancy have challenged traditional images of old age. Today, one-eighth of the world’s elderly population live in India. The increased life expectancy in India is also leading to four-generation families. Kerala finds itself facing a huge human development challenge in the form of its elderly population that is burgeoning faster than other Indian states. Despite glowing accounts praising the Kerala economy’s improved performances in recent years, marginalised groups like the elderly have remained discriminated and neglected.

In many countries, older people are being treated unfairly by stereotyping and discriminating against them. Deprived of work, dependent on charity or old-age assistance they suffer from all types of physical ailments and are regular victims of robbery, assault and other crimes. Elder abuse constitutes different forms of abuse like neglect, disrespect, verbal abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, psychological and emotional abuse or even sexual abuse. The discrimination that older people face is also complex; often based on two or more factors, such as age and gender, ethnic origin, where they live, disability, poverty, sexuality, HIV status or literacy levels. Older people without any source of income are particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on both age and dependency. This article focus on the sociological conditions responsible for elderly vulnerability in Kerala. It also seeks to identify primary abusers within families besides the elders’ perception of abuse. This paper focus on the extent to which the elders depend on family members for care, as well as the type and level of care they need. An empirical study comprising 300 elderly people were made  in the state of Kerala.