Today, Belize is marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. June fifteen is officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution of December 2011 to mark one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to members of our ageing communities. Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs Dolores Balderamos-Garcia highlighted some of the challenges in an address today.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs: “The World Health Organization estimates that one in six older persons around the world experienced some type of abuse in the past year. On average only one in every twenty four incidents of elder abuse is reported to authorities. This means that our older persons often suffer in silence. Elder abuse comes in many forms including the misuse of finances, isolation or the neglect of the older person’s needs. Unfortunately the abuse often occurs at the hands of family members, care givers, friends or people they trust. An older person who is being abused feels a deep sense of hurt and embarrassment to report that a loved one has mistreated them. The challenges older people face have been compounded since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic. While physical distancing is a must social exclusion is not.”
She added that everyone has to play their part to meaningfully address this issue.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs: “On the better side as a country we can and will continue to strengthen efforts to ensure that the contributions and voices of older persons are not forgotten nor excluded. This can be done in simple ways. Checking up on your elderly neighbors, friends or family members. Or teaching older persons how to be technologically savvy including learning the basic ins and outs of digital devices so that they can enjoy social media, video calls, and being connected to their friends and families. When we ensure that our older persons know that they are not alone we build their resilience and empower them to speak out. The Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs remains committed to ensuring that the rights, wellbeing and autonomy of all older persons across Belize are protected and respected. Today June 15th we challenge you to make a commitment to support the ongoing work with our elderly. This can be done by getting involved in the work of the local community groups, volunteering to assist older persons in your community or speaking up when you see an older person being mistreated or neglected. You can also connect with our national council on ageing to find ways in which we can support our older Belizeans. My friends, elder abuse is everybody’s business. It has no place in our society and we are better than that.”
The UN notes that population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as housing, transportation and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.