Waiting for the world elder abuse awareness day 2019, we will post everyday a story from real-life situations where the human rights of older people in Finland, Ireland, Italy and Romania were not respected. Their stories illustrate the challenges older people face in having their rights met.
Too old to matter
Anna is 85 years old and despite some cognitive impairment and mobility issues she still lives alone. Her daughter Eliza lives nearby and assists Anna in her day-to-day life. Anna is very proud of her independence but lately it is getting more difficult to do things like visit her friends, go to Bingo, or Sunday lunch with her daughter and nieces. Her knee is giving her a lot of pain and nothing seems to work to relieve it, confining Anna to her home. This worsening mobility prompted Eliza to take Anna to visit the orthopaedist.
After a superficial medical exam, the doctor brusquely asked her, “lady, why are you here? At your age, what do you want? What am I supposed to do?” Anna was taken back by her disrespectful manner but in spite of the intimidation she felt, she mustered up the courage to declare that she would “like to feel less pain, to move more easily and at least walk a little.” The doctor did not listen and repeated her dismissal.
Anna feels disempowered by her doctor’s visit and vows never to visit a doctor’s surgery again . All her motivation and hope of finding a reasonable outcome are gone. Her experience has crushed her strong, independent spirit and she now feels unworthy of asking for her care needs to be met. As she explains, “after you hear the word “No” enough times you stop asking. If you are victimised once you’re victimised forever”.
Anna’s daughter Eliza sees this treatment as a violation of her mother’s human rights and as an assault on her dignity. Anna is being discriminated against because of her age and as a consequence does not receive an equal standard of health and care.
Anna’s story highlights infringements of these rights:
ECHR Article 14: Prohibition of discrimination in the enjoyment of Convention rights;
CRPD 17 Protecting the integrity of the person: be seen as a person with feelings and thoughts and be treated with respect;
CRPD Article 20 Personal Mobility: information and access to aids;
CRPD Article 25 Health: access the healthcare on equal basis ;
CRPD Article 26 Habilitation and Rehabilitation: to intervene to reduce disability.