Sons worse than daughters when it comes to elder abuse: Youngsters

Sons worse than daughters when it comes to elder abuse: Youngsters

MADURAI: S Kumar (name changed) is a 93-year-old retired bank official who has been living in an old age home near Simmakkal in the city for the last six years. He was pushed out of his house of by his three sons, who now lives on his money but refuses to even allow him to meet his grandsons.

Like Kumar, hundreds of elderly men and women spend their twilight years in old age homes which are cropping up in greater numbers all over the city. A recent survey revealed at least 57% of youngsters in Madurai accepted that elder abuse existed, while 82% of them thought sons did greater injustice to their parents than daughters.

The 2015 survey, conducted by HelpAge India, interviewed working adults in the age group of 25 or 45 years who were living with at least one elderly parent and asked them their views on elderly abuse. Most of them said that many married children, especially sons, did not take proper care of their ailing parents.

K V Vijay Prakash, manager of HelpAge India, said, “It is indeed true that sons are the major elder abusers. Many youngsters felt that sons did not take care to provide proper medicines to their ailing parents but grabbed their pension money and left the old parents with nothing in hand.”

“There is also an attitude problem among the children. Many youngsters we spoke to felt that it was mostly married sons who ignored their parents and who spoke less when they visited their homes. On the other hand, women tend to ignore their in-laws and give more importance to their own parents,” he added.

On the other hand, in a 2014 survey carried out among elderly people, close to 60% of them identified daughters-in-law as the prime abusers, while 57% pointed fingers at sons and 5% at daughters.

Geriatricians in the city felt that psychological abuse of elders was more prevalent among middle and upper middle class families with more than two siblings. N Raja, consultant geriatrician, said, “Families with more than two siblings will have problems like deciding whose house the parents would stay in. They tend to quarrel over these matters, and sometimes end up separating them.”

“Nowadays, sons would allot their elderly parents a room in their house which is mostly unhygienic and then neglect them completely. Such is the pathetic situation of elderly people today,” added Raja.

Social workers working for the wellbeing of elderly people said there should be better awareness about the importance of elderly people in a family. K Ram Prabhu, secretary, Indiram Educational and Social Welfare Trust, said, “We are working towards bringing down the number of old age homes in the city, but the number keeps on increasing. “

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