World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Spotlight on Older Persons in Emergencies

04 June 2024

As the world prepares to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on 15 June, this year DESA programme on ageing, in partnership with the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), will focus on the theme, "Spotlight on Older Persons in Emergencies," to highlight the critical need to protect and support older persons during crises. Established by the United Nations in 2011, WEAAD aims to raise awareness about the abuse, neglect, and exploitation that older persons face, while promoting respect and dignity for this population.

Emergencies, whether natural disasters, pandemics, or conflicts, disproportionately impact older persons. These events often exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, making it essential to address their needs in emergency planning and response. Older persons may face mobility issues, chronic health conditions, or social isolation, making it difficult for them to access aid, evacuate safely, or receive timely medical care as well as support services. Moreover, the stress and chaos of emergencies can increase the risk of elder abuse, whether physical, emotional, financial, or neglect.

This year's WEAAD calls on Governments, international donors, organizations, and communities to prioritize the safety and well-being of older persons in their emergency preparedness and response strategies. It encourages the development of inclusive policies that ensure older persons are not overlooked during crises. This includes creating accessible evacuation plans, ensuring continuity of healthcare services, and providing targeted support to prevent isolation and abuse.

WEAAD 2024 also emphasizes the importance of education and training for emergency responders, caregivers, and the public. By increasing awareness about the specific challenges faced by older persons in emergencies, we can foster a more inclusive and protective environment. 

As we come together to observe WEAAD, let us reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the rights and dignity of older persons, ensuring that no one is left behind, especially in times of crisis. 

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