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Jul 7, 2022

Stakeholders Strategize on How to End Elder Abuse

“Elder abuse” or “abuse of older people” is defined as a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship in which there is expectation of trust that causes harm or distress to an older person. That’s according to the World Health Organization and today, at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City, the National Council of Ageing met with public sector partners N.G.O.s and other agencies met in conference to build awareness on this issue affecting a vulnerable population and look at practice interventions to address the abuse. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

June fifteenth is recognized globally as Awareness Day for Elder Abuse. But today, at the Biltmore Plaza, stakeholders gathered for a national conference on elder abuse awareness. It’s a varied approach on how data is collected and addressing cases of elder abuse in Belize.


Ix-Chel Poot,

Ix-Chel Poot, Executive Director, National Council of Ageing

“The data is almost non-existent. Elder abuse takes on about seven different recognized areas, but what we do get mostly reported to the National Council of Ageing is fraud or swindling. When an older person has been a victim of their signature taken from them to sign over land, property or someone has gained illegal access to their bank account and used all of their resources. What has been happening is that there is a lot of anecdotal data; people will know of cases but they are not necessarily recording and reporting. So we are hoping that today would be one step towards recording and reporting, generating reports.”


…and then there is also abandonment, specifically with older men, and physical violence perpetrated against older persons. Executive Director of HelpAge Belize, Ivorine Bulwer breaks down what has been happening on the ground.


Ivorine Bulwer

Ivorine Bulwer, Executive Director, HelpAge Belize

“We have caregivers. We are talking about carers within the homes, carers within institution, carers within the hospital setting. So these carers can be nurses, they can be aids or general individuals providing care within the home. It is important that all professionals have an understanding of what is abuse, to recognize what is abuse, how to manage abuse and how to create strategies to provide support to these caregivers. We have physical abuse in whatever care setting. Older persons may not be adhering to certain things and they repeatedly ask questions and yo just push them, manhandle them. You’re talking about emotional abuse, psychological abuse. Utter mean words; the asking for questions over and over and asking for assistance and you blurt out at them. They may be going through some neurological changes. We need to be understanding. We look at the sexual aspect because even older persons experience sexual abuse.”


It is estimated that worldwide only one in every twenty-four cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities; however, one in six older persons will experience some form of elder abuse.


Dr. Noreen Jack

Dr. Noreen Jack, Representative, PAHO/WHO

“The world is ageing and it is estimated that in terms of the whole world, people over sixty, you have about one billion. But by 2100, it will be two point one billion. So the world is ageing, people are living longer. In our region of the America’s currently sixteen percent of persons are over the age of sixty. That will increase to about thirty-six percent by the end of 2100. So we see that there will be much elderly persons living in the world and now you will need services to cater for persons, you would also have issues in terms of the care for persons.”


The conference also looked at strategies to create stronger networks amongst service providers in addressing and responding to domestic cases of elder abuse in Belize. This data will help in lobbying for necessary interventions.


Ix-Chel Poot

“When we talk long term, there is definitely need for legislation to protect older persons – not only in cases of elder abuse, but throughout our entire life course and the services that we are able to access as Belizeans as we become older. Very often we want to think about being older when we are fifty, when in reality it is right around eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one, we need to start thinking about what is my life going to look like when I retire.”


Dr. Noreen Jack

“The UN decade of healthy ageing looks at how society, how the various governments, the private sector, academia, N.G.O.s, community as a whole working together to ensure healthy ageing.”


Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development, Elvia Vega-Samos says that the goal is to minimize and possibly end elder abuse.


Elvia Vega-Samos, Minister of State, Human Development

“Our elderly are persons that were there for us and it is important that we are there for them as well. They are at a point in life that they need us more than ever and so the ministry is very serious about this, we are serious about ending elder abuse. And so we have care providers from all over the country here with us and we realize that it is not something that can be done in isolation. We need all the stakeholders to come together and make a difference for the elderly.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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