The Challenge of Elder Abuse in the Health Sector
Elder abuse refers to the mistreatment of older people by those in a position of trust, power or responsibility for their care. This is a global problem that is likely to intensify in view of the increasing number of older people and the changing socio-economic and environmental conditions worldwide (Randel et al. 1999). Throughout the experience of HAI, access to health care has always been of major Concern to elderly. Help Age International has strongly emphasized: “Access to Health services are not a benevolent act but are a basic human right for any human being regardless of age”. Earlier evidence adduced that the attitude and behavior of some health workers towards older people was negative. Elderly respondents taking part in focus group discussions reported that public health providers utter discouraging remarks, for example: “Wewe si mgonjwa, shida yako ni uzee”, translated into English as: “You are not sick, your problem is old age” (Ochola et al. 2000: 55). Viable intervention strategies, we opine, must have basis on multi-sectorial approaches with primary focus on attitudes and the community. Research Purpose
The purpose of this study is to analyses views of older people and health workers on indicators, context, causes and interventions in elder abuse in primary health care in Kenya. This study is aimed at helping one understand the dynamics of abuse of older persons’ rights within the primary health care system in Kenya. The report is thus largely a collection of ‘voices’ on elder abuse. The issues raised by these voices require further investigation to enrich the empirical evidence on elder abuse. Objective
The objective of the study was to gather empirical evidence of elder abuse within the healthcare system so as to use the information in formulating appropriate strategies for intervention. It is part of a broader strategy to intervene in the major rights issues of concern to older persons. The study was intended to answer questions such as: a. Does abuse occur in the hospitals?
b. Is abuse or some form it unique to older persons
c. How does this abuse affect the older persons?
d. What causes this abuse (policy, structure, and economics, social-such as attitude?) e. Who perpetrates the abuse?
f. Can anything be done to intervene and if so, what is it that can be done?. Role and importance of the Elderly in the Community
Despite the changing socio-economic structures of the African societies, the socioeconomic roles of the elderly remain very important within the family and the Community. It is worth noting however that their roles are often unrewarded and grossly undervalued today. A female discussant in Misyani noted that “In the olden days, the old people used to stay with their younger children and were, therefore, well taken care of. But nowadays, the young have to migrate away from home in order to search for survival and they leave the old at home. “In all the nine focus group discussions carried out, participants emphasized the importance of older people’s contribution to communities and singled out the following roles: a. Caring for the Vulnerable
Older persons often care for the children while the younger adults are out of the Homestead in economic pursuits. Health workers also reported that older persons often accompany children to hospital and with children who have been admitted. The role of older persons in caring for the vulnerable has become ever so important in the face of the ravages of HIV/AIDS. Participants in ALL focus groups discussions lamented that older persons face the multi-faceted tragedy of losing economic support of their children who are infected, economically having to support their children who are infected (and their children’s families), nursing their children when infection turns to full-blown AIDS, losing their children and having to care and support their orphaned grandchildren. In the course of the...