That the elderly become a burden in most households is not new, but a recent survey revealed that 35 per cent of the caregivers -- be it sons or daughters-in-law, "never" felt happy looking after the elderly. According to the report, "Elder Abuse in India: Role of Family in Caregiving: Challenges & Responses" by charitable organisation HelpAge India, released on the eve of 'World Elder Abuse Awareness Day' on Friday, 29 per cent respondents admitted they would prefer that senior citizens in the family be put in old age homes.
A quarter of the respondents also blamed fatigue and frustration for their aggression towards elders. "While 35 per cent of the caregivers never felt happy looking after the elderly, 25 per cent caregivers felt fatigue and frustration that resulted in aggressive behaviour towards the older members of the family," the report noted. With a sample size of 2090 caregivers, mainly involving son, daughter-in-law, daughter, and son-in-law, the 20 city report identifies the top forms of abuse as disrespect, neglect and verbal abuse.
The repot focuses on the generation aged 30 – 50 years, covering Tier 1 and 2 cities. "What is amazing is that despite the abuse elders might face at home, at the hands of their adult children, they choose to remain within the family ambit. Their solution is always sensitize their children, their primary caregivers, and not move away from the family," Mathew Cherian, HelpAge India, CEO, said. A total of 29 per cent caregivers in the family felt the "burden of caregiving of an elder was Moderate to Severe", while 15 per cent felt a "Severe burden of caregiving".
Despite the burden felt, up to 32 per cent adult caregivers fulfilled their duties of extending physical care to elderly for Activities of Daily Living (ADL) such as help, assistance in changing clothes, walking, eating, bathing, and toileting. The report also found that 42.5 per cent caregivers paid for the medical bills, and 57 per cent of the times monetary help for an elder's personal habits came from the son against 23 per cent from the daughter-in-law.
On an average, a family spends Rs 4125 looking after the elderly as 78.1 per cent caregivers felt that no policy or measures were adopted by their employers to help them ease the burden of caregiving regarding elderly at home, it noted.
"It is therefore important to look into space of the caregiver. To understand the burden of elder care and the challenges faced by them. For only if we are able to understand, can we also empower and encourage them to look after their elderly parents," Cherian said. The organisation also launched its nationwide emergency elder helpline application, "HelpAge SOS", with the aim to provide help at a click of a button, to an elder in need.