The nature of our societies in treating abuse as a hidden problem is seemingly, now universally accepted.
Abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of elders are much more common than societies admit. Still in the moments where society takes a stand on matters of abuse, we seldom venture to address the issue of abuse of our elders. This only amplifies the need for us to speak about this matter and these missing voices demonstrate clear links between disempowerment and discrimination and the unchecked nature of elder abuse.
The Ministry of Social Transformation recognises World Elder Abuse Awareness Day as a critical tool to raise awareness of elder abuse, which encompasses neglect and mistreatment of our elderly citizens throughout Antigua & Barbuda. To do this effectively, and to do so in a co-ordinated fashion, for maximum national impact and solidarity, the Ministry of Social Transformation Citizens Welfare Division, together with the Government Residential Assistance Care for the Elderly Programme (GRACE), wishes all citizens to use this message as an invitation for you to become an advocate on this matter. Visit a senior today.
Elder abuse is any act within a relationship of trust that results in harm to an older person. The most common forms of elder abuse include physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse and neglect. You can be the one to make a difference in ending elder abuse as you act upon the global call to “Take A Stand in the Fight Against Elder Abuse.” Family, friends, neighbours young and old are asked to join the call to action against elder abuse.
The day, observed on June 15, is in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action which recognises the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. The Ministry of Social Transformation and the government of Antigua & Barbuda have instituted programmes such as the PetroCaribe Citizens Benefit Card, the Board of Guardians, and GRACE Programmes administered through this Ministry and the waivers to the elderly under the Utilities’ Subsidy programme and the Elderly Home Care Grant work to ensure that older Antiguans and Barbudans live with dignity, integrity and independence.
It is our desire to continue the support of such programmes to ensure that our seniors can live without abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
My fellow Antiguans and Barbudans, the awareness that elder abuse happens, and that it is a problem, is critical in the process for meaningfully change. Older adults need to be aware of the problem and of their rights, as well as become proactive in utilising available services and resources in the process.
We are proud that on May 15, 2012, the Ministry graduated 13 Elder Care Assistances who had completed a course in eldercare developed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
We wish to again publicly congratulate all the graduates and thank GRACE Programme Manager Nurse Brenda Bennett for her sincere commitment to this delicate issue. Training programmes are continuing to aid professionals involved in the care of older people, to recognise and act on abuse or suspicions of abuse.
In closing, I wish to state that the Ministry of Social Transformation places emphasis on the need to encourage closer and positive contact between generations and the need to foster positive attitudes among youth is key in this process. The social isolation and neglect of older adults must be broken through intergenerational relationships.
In accordance with this philosophy, today, we urge everyone especially the young, to show the world that we care about ending elder abuse and neglect. “Wear something yellow” on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15, 2012.