Former Superintendent of Police and advocate for the elderly, Yvonne Alexander has raised concerns as it relates to abuse of the elderly in Dominica.
She was speaking at a special ceremony held recently at the Premium Home & Residential Care Services (PHARCS) Mount Carmel Facility at Morne Daniel, in recognition of World Elder Abuse Day.
“Please understand that our elderly are humans and they deserve the same dignity and the same respect as people of all other ages,” she stressed. “And I think a few years ago we actually heard the horrific news of elderly individuals in their 80’s being sexually abused right here in Dominica.”
According to Alexander, the fact is, aging is accompanied by declining health and strength and as such older people are high on the list of the most vulnerable in society.
“They often cannot defend themselves against any form of abuse,” she explained.
Alexander stated further that many are homebound and are neglected by friends and family.
“This form of isolation creates an environment in which abuse can take place and can continue for a long time before it is ever brought to the notice of someone,” she remarked.
She went on to say, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), although the extent of elderly treatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious.
“Here in Dominica and across the world there are laws that address most of these crimes against the elderly,” she noted.
Alexander said in order for the abuse to be investigated, it first have to be reported.”
“The problem is that elder abuse often goes unrecognized and unreported and or, underreported,” she said.
The Theme for World Elder Abuse Day was “You’ve Got to Make a Promise”.
And according to Alexander, “In keeping with this year’s theme , we have all got to make a promise to be much more aware of how the issue of elder abuse can more particularly to do all we can to prevent it.”
She mentioned that there are areas where the elderly bank or receive money.
“You’ve got to promise that you will ensure that the due diligence cheques are done and that the elderly are not being deprived of their much needed financial resources,” Alexander noted.
She added, “You’ve got to promise that you will be mindful of the needs of this very vulnerable group in our midst.”