What we do about elder abuse will be our legacy as a society

By Dr Cecilia Chan
Gerontologist, Dementia Advocate and Activist

The recent abuse case in an aged care facility in Kedah has shone a spotlight on the treatment of older people in our society, with an ensuing reflection about how and where older Malaysians age, how they live their advanced years, and how they die. Videos of the incident that occurred in an aged care facility in Kedah went viral. It was a heartbreaking and disturbing video to watch. Malaysians sighed with relief when we learnt that the operator as well as the staff were detained. It is time for us as a society to reflect on what this means as we are heading toward an aged nation. Will we again, soon forget about this incident as we did in the past? This is not the first time such abuse has been highlighted in the media. Research published in 2020 stated that about 9.0% of older persons in Malaysia have experienced elder abuse in the past 12 months! Think about that! Elder abuse is more common than we Malaysians wish to admit. This particular incident was captured and reported, but how many such incidents are happening daily and not reported or even recognized? Is it adequate merely to detain the operator or to close down the home? Maybe it is time for us to look at the bigger picture and examine what are the underlying issues that lead to the abuse.

We must also realize that elder abuse is not merely a public health issue. Elder abuse is an issue that involves human rights, justice, the law, the economy, and quite simply, who we are as human beings.

What elevates elder abuse is something that merits special attention, particularly from governments and policymakers. If we are to make any progress in eliminating this problem, we need to look at the problem directly and take action to change behaviors and attitudes across the full spectrum of fields affected by elder abuse, as a community. If no action is taken, one in six of us is going to be affected by elder abuse when we reach 60. I implore us to reflect on the late Mahatma Gandhi’s reminder, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button