Perspectives on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly in India
Elder abuse and neglect as social, legal and public health issues are now recognized all over the world. In India, too, elder abuse and neglect have caught the attention of researchers, social workers, academicians and policymakers, and in recent years there have been responses from various quarters attempting to understand the problems, prevent and manage them. Yet, definition of elder abuse and neglect is still discussed and contested, though in general it is accepted as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. Lack of mandatory reporting laws, which require certain individuals and professionals to report instances of abuse to an official agency or to the police, also add to a lack of clarity on an acceptable and universal definition of elder abuse and neglect in the country. Many studies conducted in the Indian context classify it as physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse or exploitation, neglect, and sexual abuse. Recognizing the category of self-neglect is still an unknown field in India. The chapter reviews the responses in India to understand the concept in its various dimensions and suggests that there is still much more which needs to be done to prevent, detect and manage the problems, which are increasing as the population of older persons grows in the country.
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