June 15 is internationally commemorated as Elderly Abuse Awareness Day. Helpage Belize engaged in educational activities during the course of the day. Executive Director of the Help Age Belize, Ivorine Bulwer, tells us more
“It’s a day for us to create that level of awareness of what comprises elderly abuse, it may be by intentional or it may be on a mission and we recognize because of elder abuse you certainly create stresses whether physical, emotional, financial but it certainly alters the quality of life of older persons to the effect that it may hasten death.”
Helpage Belize says there are a number of cases where the elderly have been abused. Bulwer speaks about what kind of help the organization offers senior citizens when they suffer various forms of abuse.
“Elderly abuse exists in Belize unfortunately it’s such a stigma that it’s not something that we openly would speak about and sometimes it exists passively. Our parents may get old, our parents may get more dependent on us but we are not trained or capable in regards to the care so we may assume that we have them at home but they might be in a room locked up or they may be just left in the wheelchair. The concept of care is holistic we are not just looking at just having them to get something to eat they need some sort of social activity, their exercise their basic rights still need to be respected as well.”
On this day in which Elderly Abuse is being brought to the forefront, Bulwer had a special message for the people in the community and especially the young people, on how they can help the elderly citizens in the country.
“In Belize we are seeing all forms of elder abuse among our older persons. Very often we are seeing incidents of financial abuse where persons have entrusted family members or loved ones to take care of their assets and as they age and their mobility declines they then become a burden and then they are pushed aside, isolated, they are seriously neglected. We have had situations where we had gotten lawyers that we can’t afford to pay but they have done it pro bono to follow through these cases. As it relates to health we ensure that all our clients in areas where there is an NHI register with the NHI we have met with the hospitals in towns countrywide to establish that relationship where there is a special clinic to serve our older persons.”
Activities were held in Help Age Centers across the country.