28May, 2019

Call to care organisations to raise awareness around elder abuse in Durban communities

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | May 28th, 2019

Tafta is calling on collaborative partners in the field of elder care in the Durban community to join them as they plan a multi-stakeholder approach to educate residents and community elders on the issues of elder abuse. The call to action comes after the deaths of three Durban elders.

According to Tafta CEO, Femeda Shamam, “Last month, there were two tragic incidences where elders had been left with a sense of hopelessness and isolation, leading to disturbing fatalities. As I read reports on these deaths, they invoked in me a sense of urgency to act to find solutions to support elders in desperate need within our communities.”

Shamam took to social media to identify like-minded people. “Alone, I may not be able to do much but I know that there are people who are deeply affected by these incidents and I hope that I can count on you to partake in this initiative,” she said. “I am committing my time, my knowledge and whatever resources I have to contribute towards an elder never feeling that they have no option but to end their lives.”

Following an underwhelming response from the Durban community, Tafta has decided to forge ahead with a series of talks and dialogues within various communities to educate residents and elders on the prevention of elder abuse and the care of vulnerable elders. The Association is calling on interested community bodies looking to partner with us to get the message out to elders and their caretakers.

The sessions follow a similar community initiative in 2018, where Tafta in partnership with elders from Kwa Mashu, Newlands, Inanda and organisations such as Umlazi Christian Care centre, Baytul Nur and DAFTA embarked on an awareness dialogue on elder abuse. Dialogue sessions, which reached 335 people, included types of abuse and reporting structures. The following were identified as types of elder abuse common in these areas:

  • Financial abuse – pensions taken by family members, having to use their pensions for grandchildren
  • Violation of human rights – not being listened to by relevant authorities
  • Systemic abuse – lack of assistance for elders at hospitals, medication shortages
  • Cycle of poverty which leads to dependency on abusers
  • Fear to speak out – when they do they are verbally and physically abused
  • Lack of education and knowledge from service providers to assist them.

According to Shamam, the dialogue session findings were then used to compile a report submission which was made the KZN Older Persons parliament in October 2018. “The dialogues created a platform to highlight issues experienced by elders across the demographic lines and the importance of on-going awareness to deal with this taboo subject in a safe environment.

“In 2019, we are rolling out these dialogue sessions in Chatsworth, KwaMashu and other areas in which we hope to unearth further findings. Following these sessions, we’ll hopefully have a clearer understanding of the issues we need to tackle and establish a task team to take them forward towards resolution, or at least greater levels of support for those in need,” she added.

Once again, the sessions will culminate in an awareness walk on 14 June 2019 to commemorate World Elder Abuse Day which is on 15 June 2019. For the first time, the walk will take place in Wentworth, in the vicinity of Tafta’s John Dunn House. Interested parties wishing to walk in solidarity with Tafta can contact Abel Naicker on 031 208 4175 or email abeln@tafta.org.za