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Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010

EDITORIAL

Protecting the elderly from abuse

In April 2006, the law to prevent abuse of people aged 65 or over went into force, requiring citizens to report any case of abuse to municipal governments. But the situation surrounding the elderly appears to be deteriorating. The welfare ministry reported on Nov. 22 that in fiscal 2009, there were 15,615 cases of physical and other abuse of people in the age group, an increase of 4.9 percent from the previous fiscal year and a record number since statistics started to be taken in fiscal 2006.

The abuse cases in a multiple-answer survey were broken down into physical abuse (63.5 percent), psychological abuse including verbal abuse (38.2 percent), financial abuse such as depriving victims of money or property (26.1 percent) and neglect (25.5 percent). It was also found that 41 percent of the abuse cases were committed by sons of the victims, 17.7 percent by husbands and 15.2 percent by daughters.

Abuse led to the death of 32 people, eight more than in fiscal 2008 and tying with the past record marked in fiscal 2006. There were also 76 cases of abuse by workers at facilities for the elderly, a rise of 8.6 percent. Of the 32 people who died, 17 were murdered by those who were taking care of them, six died due to neglect and five died due to violence.

The findings indicate that many people who are giving care to elderly members of their families are being cornered psychologically and financially, unable to receive enough help or support from people around them or from the public sector. Loss of jobs and divorces are also increasing the difficulty of those taking care of elderly people.

Local governments must make efforts to build venues where people experiencing difficulty in taking care of elderly people can easily get necessary advice and support. It will be especially important to take measures that will help prevent these people from feeling isolated and helpless.

More than 420,000 people are waiting to be accepted into homes for elderly people requiring special care and the working conditions of employees there are not attractive. The central and local governments should rectify the situation.



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