Are Elderly People Safe in Their Own Households? New Evidence from Seven States of India
Elder abuse and neglect were never considered as problems in India when a value-based joint family system was prevailing. However, elder mistreatment is increasing as a result of the breakdown of joint families and fewer children to depend upon during old age. This chapter explores the extent and nature of elder abuse and neglect using the data from the Building Knowledge-Base on Population Ageing in India (BKPAI) survey which was conducted in 2011 in seven states of India. Information on health, economic and social aspects, including abuse and neglect, was collected from 9852 seniors. Some 10% of them reported having been mistreated after the age of 60. Verbal abuse and disrespect were the most common forms of abuse. Among those who had ever experienced abuse after turning 60, 90% faced verbal abuse and 45% were victims of economic abuse. Around 35% were victims of physical abuse. The main perpetrators were neighbours (46%), sons (41%) and relatives (32%). Wide inter-state variation exists with nearly one-third of seniors from Maharashtra reporting abuse and neglect compared to only 2% in Tamil Nadu and 3% in Kerala. Elderly people who lived alone, those who lived in rural areas and those who were illiterate were more likely to be mistreated than others. Economic dependency upon care-givers also increased their vulnerability. The general perception that families are the safest place for elderly people to live has been questioned to some extent by the findings of this study.
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