Towards WEAAD 2019… Tom’s story

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.

“My life is a dead limb- I’m not doing or producing anything.”

Tom is 63 years old and once worked as an electrician, earning good money especially when he worked in Iraq during the war. He has a large family of children and grandchildren but lives alone in a tiny and crammed one-room apartment. Tom values his family, social activities and exercise as means to keep healthy and active but due to his financial status, he feels his opportunities are very limited.
In 2006, Tom had a stroke and he was told by the doctor at the time that he would not be able to work again. Tom was devastated by the diagnosis and his enforced retirement. At the age of 50, Tom felt wronged “ I did not want to go into retirement”; he recounts how after 10 days in hospital, he recovered “instantly”. He survives on a meager illness benefit of 193 euros per month. Tom believes his illness pension was calculated unfairly because of a previously biased job ranking system. On his current pension, Tom is struggling to survive and does not eat healthily. He relies on social service canteen meals or any food he can find himself and he accepts and wears clothes belonging to his partner’s deceased husband. Luxuries are a thing of the past.
As the years went by, Tom became more determined to work again, so six years ago he retrained as a security guard. He was prepared to work both day and night shifts. He looked forward to having money, being less idle and bored and contributing to his family and society. After receiving his certificate in public security however he discovered that as he had been certified by a doctor previously as unfit to work, he was not permitted to rejoin the workforce in any capacity
Tom would love to be able to help his family more and be able to contribute to family events and occasions. He cannot afford Christmas presents for his grandchildren and at gatherings he tries to avoid drawing attention to himself and his circumstances as they are a source of great shame and frustration for him.
Tom just wants the basics- somewhere comfortable to sleep and eat. Right now however, Tom looks at his life as if it were a dead limb- he is not doing anything or producing anything. He tries to be optimistic, hoping that one day he could work again after such a long period of inactivity, but those spirits are hard to keep up.

Tom’s story highlights infringements of these rights

ECHR Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life;
ECHR Article 14 Prohibition of discrimination in the enjoyment of Convention rights;
CRPD Article 5 Equality and non-discrimination: ensure reasonable accommodation
CRPD Article 26 Habilitation and rehabilitation;
CRPD Article 27 Work and employment: safeguard and promote the realisation to work including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment;
CRPD Article 28 Adequate standard of living and social protection: having sufficient income for food, clothes and housing;
CRPD Article 30 Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport

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