By Nyasha Mutena
The Deputy Minister of Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Honourable Lovemore Matuke has implored the young generation to respect and take great care of the elderly.
His clarion call comes when many elderly people continue to experience untold suffering at the hands of their families. Ranging from starvation, physical assault, denied medical care to fast track their death, neglect and misuse of their pensions.
Addressing journalists to mark the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day commemorations, Hon Matuke said;
“Other Elderly are abandoned to take care of themselves when their health has deteriorated, at a time they need family support the most. This happens when they are nolonger in a position to fend for themselves and their families as they are regarded as an impediment and a nuisance to society.
“As people age and their immune system deteriorates they become prone to suffer from life threatening diseases and ailments. Such treatments are inhumane and not justified at all ,” he said.
He mentioned that the situation is even dire for elderly people with disabilities.
“Elder persons’ abuse within communities does not spare elder persons with disabilities, they are however more exposed to abuse since they may not have the physical capacity to fight back or even call out for help. They suffer a lot of abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers whom they depend on for everyday living,” added Hon Matuke.
Hon Matuke’s call to respect the elderly also comes when most African traditional societies also accuse the elderly of witchcraft. As such, their pain is oftenly overlooked.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the world to safeguard older persons especially during COVID-19 and beyond.
“Although all age groups are at risk of contracting COVID-19, older persons are at a significantly higher risk of mortality and severe disease following infection, with those over 80 years old dying at five times the average rate.
“An estimated 66% of people aged 70 and over have at least one underlying condition, placing them at increased risk of severe impact from COVID-19,” he said.
The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) happens each year on June 15th. It was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 66/127 in December 2011. It is a day when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of the older generations.
The theme this year is ‘Access to Justice’, which aims at reminding the importance to address the needs of elders who may seek recourse.