As a result of the current ageing scenario, there is need for all aspects of care for the older persons namely, social, economic, health and shelter. In line with the living arrangements and the needs of elderly, security and abuse of older persons are also emerging as issues of greater concern in India. With this background, HelpAge India felt the need to understand the issue of elder abuse, its nature and extent of prevalence across cities, perceptions of the elderly and other stakeholders. The present study having both quantitative and qualitative components was carried out by HelpAge India and Sigma, based on which the report has been prepared. The fieldwork for the quantitative component of the study was carried out by HelpAge India, while Sigma was engaged by HelpAge India to design the study and carry out
the In Depth Interviews.
The present study aims at identifying the symptoms of elder abuse and finding out its
existence and reasons for the same. The quantitative study covered the elderly in the age group of 60+ years across 8 cities viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bhopal, Chennai, Patna and Hyderabad with a sample size of 100 per city.
For the qualitative part, In Depth Interviews (IDI) among legal experts, members of Senior Citizen’s Association, Police Officers, medical experts, Social Welfare Officer, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Corporate and Individual Donors, and Psychologists were carried out by Sigma. In all, 57 IDIs with various target groups were carried out.
The SALIENT FINDINGS of the study are presented below:
1. The mean age of the elderly across the cities is 68 years. More than half of the elderly in Kolkata (54%) are of 70+ years.
2. Three fourth (74%) of the elderly are currently married, while one fifth (23%) are
3. The mean number of children the elderly have is 3, with 2 sons and 1 daughter in all cities except Hyderabad, Kolkata and Patna where it is 4.
4. Half of the elderly stay with son, while one fourth (27%) stay with spouse. One tenth (10%) of the elderly are living alone and their children come to visit them.
5. Four fifth (82%) of the elderly are literates with one fifth (19%) and one tenth (13%) being Graduates and Post Graduates respectively. Close to one fifth (18%) of the elderly are illiterate.
6. Proportion of illiterate is highest in Kolkata (42%) and lowest in Patna (3%).
7. As regards the last main occupation, 26% of the elderly were homemakers, while 19% were working as unskilled workers.
8. One fifth of the elderly are currently engaged in economic activity.
9. More than two fifth (45%) of the elderly currently economically active are self
employed/ professionals. Nearly one fifth of the elderly are shop owners.
10. The average monthly household income of the elderly is Rs. 12045. About three fifth (59%) of the elderly have a monthly household income of less than Rs 10,000.
11. More than two fifth (45%) of the elderly have pension as the main source of income and one fifth get income from interest on savings and fixed deposits.
12. Half (51%) of the elderly own property and this is highest in Delhi (68%) and Patna (68%) and lowest in Hyderabad (28%) and Kolkata (36%).
13. Close to three fourth (73%) of the elderly are living in their own house while 18% are living in a rented place.
14. More than two fifth (46%) of the elderly are financially dependent on others, with
highest being reported in Chennai (63%) and Kolkata (61%).
15. More than half (57%) of the elderly are financially dependent on their son and around one fourth are dependent on their spouse.
16. More than two fifth (44%) of the elderly consider negligence as elder abuse.
17. More than one third each of the elderly feel that elder abuse constitutes emotional
abuse (39%), verbal abuse (37%), economic abuse (35%), showing disrespect (34%)
and physical abuse (34%).
18. About one third (35%) of the elderly feel neglected with 21% of the elderly in the age group of 60-69 years feeling so.
19. Half (51%) of the elderly feel neglected sometimes while 40% feel neglected
20. Feeling of being neglected stems from the family related factors such as family
members not spending time and not interacting.
21. More than two fifth (46%) of the elderly reported that the family members are busy with their own work/lives and thus neglect them.
22. More than one third (36%) of the elderly have experienced any type of abuse with this being reported highest in Bhopal (79%) followed by Chennai (59%) and Kolkata
23. The elderly faced various types of abuse with showing disrespect being the most
common form of abuse followed by verbal abuse, neglect, economic abuse and
24. Abuse in terms of showing disrespect was reported more in Chennai (71%) and
25. Verbal abuse was reported more in Mumbai (79%), Ahmedabad (57%) and Kolkata (53%).
26. Emotional abuse was reported more in Delhi (62%) and Kolkata (54%).
27. Physical abuse was reported more in Kolkata (23%), Hyderabad (22%), Mumbai
(21%) and Ahmedabad (20%).
28. Abuse is reported more from the family members, with son and daughter in law
emerging as the major abusers.
29. Abuse by son was reported most in Bhopal (70%) followed by Patna (57%), and
30. Abuse by domestic help was reported more in Delhi (19%) and Ahmedabad (13%).
31. One third (35%) of the elderly faced abuse due to property issues.
32. Nearly one third each of the elderly reported facing abuse because of lack of
emotional support (30%) and lack of basic necessities (29%).
33. Half (53%) of the elderly did not take any action when they faced abuse. This is
reported highest in Chennai (80%), Bhopal (69%) and Ahmedabad (62%).
34. Most (92%) of the elderly did not register any complaint against the abuser.
35. Among the elderly who registered complaint, 33% reported that nothing concrete
came out of it, while 27% reported about the police carried out home visit, as a result
of the complaint.
36. Nearly half of the elderly (48%) are willing to take concrete action against abuse in
37. Unwillingness to take any action against abuse stems from the perception among the elderly that - ‘nothing concrete will happen’ if any action is taken, followed by a
sense of shame in the community and fear of further abuse.
38. Awareness about laws, policies and programmes against elder abuse is low among the elderly.
39. One third (33%) of the elderly are aware of existing laws and programmes against
40. Among the Elderly who are aware of the laws, policies and programmes, majority
(88%) are aware of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Act,
(56%) of the elderly are aware of the National Policy on Older Persons, (67%) are
aware of the Protection for Women against Domestic Violence Act.
41. Awareness of the law enforcing agencies is low as only one fifth of the elderly (18%) are aware of these.
42. Close to two fifth (38%) of the elderly perceive the role of police and lawyers as non supportive in tackling abuse.
43. One fourth of the elderly (26%) did not know about the role of the law enforcing
agencies in controlling elder abuse.
44. More than one fourth (27%) of the elderly are of the view that the Police is not
equipped to handle cases of elder abuse.
45. The major measures to be taken up by the law enforcing agencies suggested by the elderly include ‘giving protection’ and ‘carrying out home visits’.
46. It was also suggested that the Police should assist the elderly in getting maintenance from the children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Act.
47. ‘Having steady cash flow’, ‘making adjustments within family’ and ‘having own
property to reduce economic dependency’ are the major measures suggested by the
elderly to control elder abuse.