World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Theme, history, and significance of the day amid pandemic

The theme for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is 'Access to Justice'

Every year, June 15 is marked as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. As is indicative from the name, it is a day that educates people about the abuses suffered by the elderly population around the world — it could be verbal, physical, or emotional.

This year, the day has been given fresh relevance in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected millions of lives around the world.

History

The day is said to have come into existence in June 2006 when a request was made to declare June 15 as a special day for elders. But, it was only in 2011 when it was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The significance in the pandemic

The UN secretary-general António Guterres has said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world. Beyond its immediate health impact, the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty, discrimination, and isolation. It is likely to have a particularly devastating impact on older people in developing countries.”

It is an understood fact that while people of all age groups contract the Covid infection, it is the elderly population that is more at risk of mortality. According to the UN, an estimated 66 per cent of people aged 70 and over have at least one underlying condition, placing them at increased risk of a severe impact from Covid-19.

Additionally, “older persons may also face age discrimination in decisions on medical care, triage, and life-saving therapies. Global inequalities mean that, already pre-Covid-19, as many as half of older persons in some developing countries did not have access to essential health services. The pandemic may also lead to a scaling back of critical services unrelated to Covid-19, further increasing risks to the lives of older persons,” the UN states.

Theme

The theme for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is ‘Access to Justice’. In a video message to launch a policy brief on older persons, Guterres had said, “No person, young or old, is expendable. Older people have the same rights to life and health as everyone else. Difficult decisions around life-saving medical care must respect the human rights and dignity of all.”

Check out some of the most important tweets honouring the day:

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