One in six elderly people is suffering from some form of abuse, which roughly translates to 16 percent of persons aged 60 and above. And of all the forms, psychological abuse ranks highest at 11.6 percent, a study commissioned by the World Health Organization revealed.

The research, published in the Lancet Health Global, found that more elderly people suffer from psychological abuse than financial, physical and sexual abuse or neglect.

The research was based on 52 studies conducted in 28 countries, including 12 low- to middle-income nations.

The United Nation’s health agency maintained that any form of abuse is detrimental to the physical and mental health of an older person. Such abuses can likely lead to depression, stress and anxiety and ultimately result in more elderly people ending up in nursing homes, being hospitalized or dying.

Financial abuse, at 6.8 percent, is the second highest ranking form, while neglect comes in at 4.2 percent, physical abuse at 2.6 percent and sexual abuse with 0.9 percent.

Self-worth is most harmed when an elderly person is subjected to psychological abuse, which can include name calling, scarring, embarrassment, destruction of property or keeping them away from family and friends.

A senior citizen suffers from neglect if their basic living and health maintenance needs are not met. Financial abuse, meanwhile, involves the illegal use of an older person’s financial and material assets.

“The abuse of older people is on the rise,” according to the WHO Department of Ageing and Life Course Senior Health Adviser.

This reality impacts the 141 million older people worldwide seriously, in terms of individual and societal costs. The WHO said much needs to be done to prevent and respond to the increasing frequency of the different forms of abuse.

As if the results of the study were not worrisome enough, the WHO predicts the number of elderly abuse will continue to rise as the population gets older. With an estimated two billion people over the age of 60 by 2050, the number of abuse victims from this age group could reach 320 million by then.

Yet with statistics as alarming as they are, there is rarely any discussion about elderly abuse in public, and it is given the least prioritization in research, the WHO noted. Governments must put in place measures that protect this vulnerable group, it said.

A case in point is importance given by Congress to elderly health and prevention of elder abuse. Several bills with similar concerns have been approved only at the committee level at the House of Representatives. No counterpart measures were reported at the Senate and Congress has already adjourned.

Already, there are seven million senior citizens, and the number is expected to reach 14.2 million by 2040, based on a 2010 Philippines consensus. MIMS

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