Summary of report from Costa Rica
In 1994, the authorities of the health sector in Costa Rica declared family violence as one of the country’s 14 health priorities, defining it as a public health problem. One of the emerging challenges has been to formulate a policy that tackles elder abuse and that increases public awareness regard- ing this issue. As in many other countries, prevalence data specifically on elder abuse do not exist and have to be extrapolated from research focusing on other topics. In a survey carried out in 1996 (n=328; 67% of people older than 75 years), 4% of the sample were physically abused on a regular basis, 13.8% were suffering from psycho- logical abuse, 5% reported financial abuse and 2.5% were sexual abused (Jiménez Rodríguez, 1998). One of the conclusions of this study was that older people preferred to live alone due to poor relationships be- tween them and their relatives.
Focus groups with older people
ere were three focus groups with 33
older people: one group of older women, one group of older men and one mixed group. Participants’ ages ranged from 65 years to 90 years. All came from urban and suburban settings.
e five most relevant questions chosen by
the groups were Questions 1, 3, 4, 5 and 9.
Question 1: Feeling lonely and isolated are common sensations among older people, as many do not have good relationships with their families. Some older people isolate themselves because they have been mis- treated and fear further repressions from the perpetrator. Sometimes, however, it is the family that isolates the older person because they consider him or her to be “useless”. erefore, the participants regard “feeling sad” and “feeling lonely” as good indicators of abuse.
Question 3: is question is relevant for the detection of elder abuse, since de- pendence is a source of tension and older people often depend on others. However, the “needs” should go beyond the level of “basic” and comprise also a broader range of needed items. e participants also expressed their doubts about the usefulness of the question, because everybody requests some kind of help or support at some point in their life.
Question 4: e participants considered the frequency of the event to be impor- tant. e second part of this question is, therefore, indispensable. e prevention of needed things is a kind of abuse that takes place not only in the domestic setting but also in institutions and in public.