Workshop with social workers
ere seems to be a general consensus
among the participants from the different countries that elder abuse is an important community issue, regardless of the geo- graphical setting. Also ageism, in the form of disrespect and disregard of older people, was a theme that was prominent in almost all groups. Nonetheless, resources and community support are in most cases limited. Insufficient engagement on behalf of the government affects all participating countries, expressed by prevailing public policies relating to health care, social issues and finance that do not adequately cover or protect older people (Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya, Spain).
e participants discussed culturally spe-
cific risk factors for elder abuse and devel- oped the following categories:
Family members who are involved in drug dealing (Brazil).
Living in a favela 26 increases the level of vulnerability and isolation by restrict- ing free movement due to the violent environment (Brazil).
When witchcraft is suspected (e.g. among the Kisii of Kenya), it is always older people, rather than young people, who are accused. Many older women are burnt to death by the public, with or without “evidence” (Kenya).
Brazilian shanty town.
Unlike in other participating countries, in Kenya the low number of older peo- ple in the total population, compared with children, leads to a very limited amount of resources being allocated for older people.
Access to health care facilities and counselling services is usually not available for older people living in re- mote areas as they cannot walk long dis- tances or afford transportation (Costa Rica, Kenya).
Discrimination by health insur- ance funds: In Kenya, for example, the National Health Insurance Fund accepts membership only below the age of 75 years. In addition, insurance companies demand much higher premiums from older people, thereby locking them out of insurance and putting them at great disadvantage.
ere were also mentioned additional abuse
categories that arose within the social workers’ experience:
Decisions were made by family mem- bers and not by the older person.
Use of cultural expectations to justify abusive behaviour.
e threat of abuse and intimidation can be a potent controlling force.
Withholding of information to punish or to take advantage of an older person.