Ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June 2020, The Association for the Aged has issued a warning that elder on elder abuse may be triggered by Covid-19.
“Elder abuse is defined as ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person,” explains Tafta CEO, Femada Shamam.
Tafta shelters up to 2 000 older people in 13 homes in the eThekwini region. Residents who are determined to exercise their freedom to leave the home and return hours later without taking the necessary precautions to minimise risk of conoravirus exposure could potentially harm, or even cause the death of, other more vulnerable residents.
“When we were informed of the National State of Disaster being declared, we took every necessary precautionary measure to ensure our elders, recognised as the most vulnerable age group, were protected from exposure to the pandemic,” Shamam said. “While some of those lockdown rules did translate to a loss of, and infringement of some constitutional freedoms, the context of a life threat was understood by all.
“In recent days however, with the constitutionality of the Lockdown being brought into question, we’ve started to face a new reality; perpetrators of abuse could be the elderly themselves, as those living beside frailer, less fit elders, choose to doggedly pursue their personal freedoms whilst potentially exposing others in our buildings to risk.”
“In facilities like our homes, elders enter into a contract with us to provide them with sheltered housing and care. They live in our homes with the understanding that they are allowed to exercise their rights whilst not infringing on the rights of others. But exercising those freedoms in a building where 599 other older people live, may result in the death of those with severely compromised immunities.”
This new challenge, she added, was cause for several disruptions at Tafta homes as a balance was being sought between those wanting to remain in restricted lockdown and those wanting to exercise personal freedoms.
“It is an area of deep reflection for us all as we realise that we must consider our own rights in the greater context of the wellbeing of all in society and not just ourselves. We are trying to meet the needs of all our residents, but it is a trying time indeed.”