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Shedding light on violence against older people with vision impairment

2 min read

The Fred Hollows Foundation is calling for more community safeguards to protect older people with vision impairment from neglect and mistreatment. 

Around one in six people aged 60 years or older have experienced some form of abuse over the past year, according to the World Health Organization.  

The rates of abuse of older people are even higher in institutions, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, where two in three staff report that they have committed abuse in the past year.  

“People with vision impairment often rely on others for assistance with daily activities, making them reliant on caregivers and increasing their vulnerability to abuse,” said Dr Vânia de la Fuente-Núñez, Senior Adviser for Healthy Ageing at The Fred Hollows Foundation.  

According to Dr de la Fuente-Núñez, elder abuse was one of the most hidden forms of abuse in society and older people with sight issues were most at risk of being harmed.   

“They may experience neglect or mistreatment when their caregivers fail to provide appropriate care or accommodation. Vision impairment can also make it challenging for older adults to manage their finances and others may take advantage of this.” 

A recent survey by The Foundation found that 85% of Australians aged 65 and older wore prescription glasses or contact lenses and 38% of people in this demographic have had cataracts. 

Globally, 78% of people who are blind are aged 50 or older (33.6 million people). 

Elder abuse can have severe physical, mental, economic and social consequences for older people, including physical injury, premature death, depression, cognitive decline, and economic loss.   

“It is only by shining a light on the unique challenges faced by older adults with vision impairment that we can work towards reducing the risk of elder abuse in this population group,” she added. 

To better protect older people with vision impairment, Dr de la Fuente-Núñez said it was critical that caregivers and institutions provide accessible support services. 

“Implementing safeguards, training programs and policies that focus on preventing elder abuse are also crucial.” 

“Addressing violence against older populations is indispensable for advancing the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing.” 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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