As the world’s second most populous continent, Africa hosts a diversity of ethnicities, cultures, and languages. It has 54 fully recognized nations, ten territories, and two de facto independent countries with limited or no recognition. Africa’s population is also the youngest among the continents.
In Japan, where adult incontinence products have outsold baby diaper sales since around 2013 due to low birthrate and rapidly aging population, older adults wearing incontinence briefs may suffer allergic reactions from materials used and added fragrances in incontinence products.
Signs and symptoms of diaper rash include small raised lumps, dry and peeling skin; burning and itchy skin; painful and tender areas; and inflammation and infected patches of skin.
Older adults wearing incontinence briefs may experience allergic reactions from materials used and added fragrances in incontinence products. It is, therefore, essential to change incontinence briefs often and regularly. Many sufferers of adult diaper rash may benefit from natural remedies that contain therapeutic benefits in a non-clinical way. These include:
Soothing Aloe Gel
Aloe Vera Gel or creams can help to soothe irritated and inflamed skin, or you could use aloe direct from the plant source. It’s natural healing properties reduce inflammation of all forms of burn and skin irritations.
Essential Oil Spray
The healing power of essential oils can work wonders for any skin type. Add a ¼ cup of water to ½ a cup of pure Almond oil, three drops of pure lavender oil, and 3-4 drops of tea tree oil. Shake the mixture together, making sure it’s mixed well. Then spray the affected area twice before putting on either an incontinence pad or underwear.
Apple Cider Vinegar Washes
You could consider using Cider Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar as it contains natural anti-bacterial properties. Cider Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar is a quick solution to getting rid of irritating diaper rash. Mix a cup of either Apple Cider Vinegar or Cider Vinegar into warm bath water, wipe gently with a damp cloth. Warning: Be careful of severe rashes or open wounds. Do not use this method to treat diaper rash if you have broken skin.
Porridge Oat Infused Bath
Porridge oats can soothe and heal the skin when used to treat diaper rash in adults or babies. Add half of a cup of porridge oats to a piece of cheesecloth or a material similar, wrap them up carefully, trying to avoid the oats escaping into the bathwater completely, and relax in the soothing oaty water. Babo Botanicals, a New York–based plant-based skin care brand offers an oat product that helps prevent redness, inflammation and diaper rash here – https://www.babobotanicals.com/blogs/from-the-doctors/adult-diaper-rash
Name: Dr. Sarab Sodhi Job: Emergency Physician, Bioethicist, Ultrasonographer Country: United States and India Age: 31
A currently practicing Emergency Physician and Ultrasound Faculty Member at Cooper University Hospital, Dr. Sarab Sodhi trained in medicine and bioethics at Temple University School of Medicine, after an undergraduate biochemistry and philosophy degree at Albright College. He did his residency and fellowship training at Cooper Hospital, where he stayed on as faculty, with a concurrent appointment as the director of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s Undergraduate Ultrasound Program – a program that he is developing currently. His passions are medical education, evidence-based medicine, undergraduate medical education, ultrasound, and bioethics. Outside of medicine, he spends his time with his wife, son, dog, and cat. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and on his website.
On his career as a physician and educator:
“I’m an emergency physician at a busy, academic, level 1 trauma center, and teaching hospital. I’m also a core ultrasound faculty, which means I spend a lot of time teaching fancy ultrasound skills to my residents and medical students. The other major hat I wear is as the director of undergraduate ultrasound for the medical school. As the director, I am designing a four-year integrated point of care ultrasound curriculum to ensure that I give students the tools they need when they have completed medical school. The goal is to help patients quicker, more accurately, and with more cost-effective care.”
On how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his work:
“COVID has led to a few changes in my work life. Like most other places in the country, we convinced everyone to stay home from the emergency department – a little too well. It means we’re seeing complications of diseases we rarely see (like cardiogenic shock from heart attacks that usually are treated rather rapidly, but as patients stay home and minimize symptoms, these once rare disease complications are becoming challenging). Shifts in full PPE are different – far more uncomfortable when wearing a head covering, eye protection, an N95, and sometimes a face shield over a lot. Many of my colleagues sport nose bandaids to prevent a breakdown from the masks as well. My medical school job has led to an increase in my meetings from home, trying to figure out when is safe for students to return, what’s the best way of restarting, etc., not to mention trying to redesign a curriculum for various approaches.”
On how he finds time for self-care:
“It has been challenging. My wife’s been working from home as well as going into the hospital (she’s an Endocrine NP) and, we have a 9-month-old baby. Juggling keeping a house moving, our dog fed and walked, our child fed and watched, and both of our work schedules have been trying- more so than before. Luckily, our daycare remained open with excellent precautions, or we’d have been completely insane. That said, I make time every day for a 30-40 minute walk with the dog and a workout on my rather bougie Peleton. We’ve also been doing masked visits with the grandparents to ensure they get to see the child when we’ve had a stretch of non-clinical time.”
On why narrative medicine important for the public:
“Physicians are often held up as caricatures of who we are – whether it’s as beyond reproach, starched white coat wearing, paragons of virtue, or as shills of big pharma and big vaccine, with the companies slipping money into our pockets. The truth is somewhere between these two vast extremes, and I believe narrative medicine and explaining the sometimes broken healers that try the best we absolutely can within our own messy lives may help give context to our patients.”
On how he combines bioethics and medicine:
“I started a bioethics degree to become a bioethicist, ivory-towered, including writing theses or debating the thorny ethical issues. Luckily, the degree I started with is a degree in urban bioethics – a distinction that focuses more so on the challenges of the social determinants of health, the obstructions to us providing our patients the best care, etc. It has led me to have a more forceful voice with our elected leaders in the swaths of letters I send them. While it helps me handle the tougher questions with some more comfort than many of my colleagues, it also tempers the decisive nature that my profession demands. The biggest skill I developed from that training is that I’ve become better at asking patients “Why” before I label them as non-compliant or non-adherent, and just sitting and listening.
I believe narrative medicine and explaining the sometimes broken healers that try the best we absolutely can within our own messy lives may help give context to our patients.
Name: Nataša Lazarevic Job: eHealth PhD Fellow, STEM Advocate, and Illustrator Country: Germany, Serbia, Botswana, UAE, Australia Age: 25
Nataša Lazarevic is completing a PhD in the fields of digital health, machine learning, and anatomy at the University of Sydney, where she previously obtained an Honours degree in Immunology and Infectious Diseases. She is a co-founder of Visibility STEM Africa, which promotes the visibility of Africans in STEM and provides them with opportunities to flourish. Nataša loves interdisciplinary projects, and thoroughly enjoys teaching anatomy and histology to undergraduate and medical students, sometimes creating funny memes about science and technology. She is passionate about promoting underrepresented groups in STEM, coordinating public health outreach projects, and science communication. Connect with Nataša on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
On her diverse background and experience:
“Hello, I am Nataša (pronounced Natasha). I have been fortunate enough to live in five different countries, but that also means that I find the concepts of nationality, identity, and sense of belonging a bit tricky. According to my passports, I am both Australian (as of recently!) and Serbian. But I was born in Germany, then lived in Serbia, grew up in Botswana for most of my childhood, the United Arab Emirates for my teenage years, and now I live in Australia. A sense of culture and identity is so much more than what our passports reveal.
I am a PhD student at the University of Sydney, and I work on an interdisciplinary project that combines the fields of digital health, machine learning, and anatomy. The project is about applying new technologies and our understanding of the human body to create technological solutions for monitoring our bodies and health remotely. I also enjoy teaching anatomy and histology to medical and undergraduate students. Everything about the body and how it works fascinates me.
On how society can make technology more inclusive:
“When I was younger, I used to pretend and behave as though I did not understand how to use technology. I believed that a girl behaved in this way, and the more I played dumb, the more attention I received from boys I liked. I found myself fitting into the stereotype, and I decided that I did not want to be that person. What helped me get past this was to believe in myself and be courageous enough to challenge stereotypes.
I realized that I often stopped challenging myself because I felt like an imposter. I’ve sometimes struggled with ‘imposter syndrome’ – the feeling that you are not good enough or that you do not belong. Opening my mind to the idea that I can overcome my fear of failure through hard work has been helpful. Also, changing or re-framing my mindset has helped tremendously.
We are overloaded with amounts of information. To cope, our brain filters much of this information or creates short-cuts (known as heuristics) to make the world easier to understand. Forms of heuristics, particularly involving the use of emotions to assess situations, are sometimes referred to as having a ‘gut feeling.’ Heuristic learning can often be the basis for forming stereotypes. Stereotyping can, at times, be positive where the person being stereotyped is glad to be regarded in that light. For instance, older adults are wise and loving. However, I think the stereotype that older populations are incapable of using and understanding technology is widespread and can prevent older adults from trying to learn or have confidence in the things they have learned. While it is true that as we age, some people lose dexterity and cognitive flexibility, we must not blindly reinforce this stereotype. Sometimes these stereotypes prevent people from even trying.
Efforts should be made to promote the engagement of the older adults with technology and the use of mobile devices. Efforts should also be made to make use of technology more accessible and user-friendly. Features that could make technology or apps more user-friendly to older adults and other populations include
simplistic design navigation
use of voice activation to navigate the app
use of larger images and texts for easier readability
use of larger touchable buttons to assist with dexterity issues
terms and conditions related to privacy and security of user data being explained in lay terms.
The majority of these features would be helpful to the general population, and at no point should these further exclude the older community. I think what would contribute positively is to create spaces where older people can openly learn about, use, and discuss technology. After all, today’s young adults are tomorrow’s older adults.”
On why Africans in STEM lack visibility:
“A reduced number of Africans are pursuing higher degree education in STEM fields. This is partially due to a lack of opportunities (for example, scholarships, postgraduate programs, funding), focus on non-STEM disciplines, insufficient investment by governments toward STEM education, and workforce development. It has led to the global research output of merely 1.4 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and low levels of peer-reviewed citations.
The pandemic has illustrated the importance of having research facilities and skilled individuals in local African communities to respond, to be self-sufficient, and not as reliant on international support.
Africans in STEM both in industry and academia are doing brilliant work in both Africa and the diaspora, and these contributions to STEM fields should be promoted. There is a lack of mentorship by Africans in STEM to younger generations to inspire them and make them feel as though such a career is possible at all. There is power in having mentors that look like you and come from the same region.
The pervasive stereotypes of Africans only being poverty-stricken and malnourished in many western countries has in some cases, led to the lack of representation of African contributions in STEM. Africa is often viewed as being one country, but in reality, the continent consists of a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, and people. We must start changing the narrative surrounding Africans in STEM and provide them with opportunities to share their stories. Visibility STEM Africa aims to promote the visibility of Africans in STEM and provide opportunities for them to flourish in their scientific fields and communities.”
On practicing self-care especially during COVID-19:
“I am getting better at practicing self-care, and the pandemic forced a lot of us to reflect upon our current situation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I regularly would put myself last. For instance, a deadline is more important than my sleep. During the pandemic, I have tried to focus on getting into a better sleeping routine and on my mental well-being by practicing mindfulness and regularly meditating. I still find it difficult, but the more you do, the easier it will be to form habits. I am passionate about exercise and its effect on mental health, so I regularly do Zoom exercise sessions with friends and family. I was able to get in touch with many friends I grew up with via video call. This was both helpful and nostalgic because I appreciated my social support network.”
On getting older in today’s world:
“I sometimes feel that people tend to treat the older population unfairly and almost as though they are a separate group. This age divide has been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have heard younger people make comments like, “But it only affects older people, so it is not that big of a deal.” I feel that to some degree, such responses stem from younger people being subconsciously fearful of becoming older themselves as they inevitably will. As a society, we do everything in our power to counter the aging process, and many industries greedily profiteer from this obsession. I sometimes feel that some people view aging as an internal cell decay time bomb.
At my current age, I do not fear aging nor the existential anxiety commonly associated with the awareness that death is inevitable. I feel that it is more prudent to stop being anxious about phenomena that we cannot control. But, ask me when I am 60 and perhaps my response will change because the onset of age-related health consequences will have occurred (Like menopause! I am not looking forward to that).”
I sometimes feel that people tend to treat the older population unfairly and almost as though they are a separate group.
Name: Ova Ceren Job: Programmer and Web Designer Country: England and Turkey Age: 38
Ova Ceren is a SharePoint specialist with 15 years of experience in development, technical documentation, configuration, migration, administration, support, and end-user workshop training for the SharePoint server. Previously, Ova worked as a Senior SharePoint Developer for Anglia Ruskin University, where she developed SharePoint websites, performed user interface development, and aided with best practices on configuration. She has a Master’s in Business Administration from Dokuz Eylul University and Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Ege University. Connect with Ova on her website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
On herself, hobbies, and passions:
“I’m Ova, a software developer and a big reader. Lover of cats, the color yellow, traveling, music and art. I’m a summer child, I adore Harry Potter, I’ve been raised by a book lover, and I believe in a bit of magic. At work, I write mostly front end code, and create workflows and forms, on SharePoint. As a blogger, I love creating content on Instagram, and the response I get from people all around the world is so motivating.”
On practicing self-care during COVID-19:
“The COVID-19 pandemic is hard on everyone, and it took us some time to realize that it’s okay not to be okay. I try to stay more relaxed by spending my days in activities that I enjoy, which is limited when you are stuck at home, but things like reading work for me. I used to cook almost every night, but I now feel that it’s fine to have cheese on toast for dinner! With a young child at home, it’s impossible to do everything, so I take it easy by giving myself room for flexibility, and not sticking to a routine, especially when it comes to homeschooling. The important thing is trying to enjoy small things. It could be the sunset, a stroll with my bike, a cup of tea, or just sitting in the garden under the sunshine.”
On starting in information technologyand web development:
“My first advice would be discovering what they want to do. What kind of value do you want to add, to yourself and others? IT work has such a massive variety, you could be a developer (even this has so many branches within), a database administrator, system analyst or a technical architect. They are all different and there are endless career opportunities. I think it’s important to find out what makes you enjoy the work you’re doing. For me, this is SharePoint: as an application, it has so many layers and functions and there are always multiple ways to solve a problem or accomplish a task. I love discovering new functionalities and aspects of it during my work time.”
On encouraging people to embrace reading and books:
“I don’t think I can convince people to read. If someone is attracted to reading, they will find their way into being a reader. But If I’m convincing enough, I’ll say, books offer orgasms- literally. An example is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories. Every story in that book blew my mind. I remember reading The Werewolf, and from the first sentence, I was disconnected from my surroundings and entering into the world of Carter. Good writing has this effect on me. So, it’s always a good idea to discover fictional worlds because the greatest books are written by possibly the greatest minds.”
On her strategy for creating content on Instagram:
“I have only one strategy: being spontaneous. It’s more like, “what shall I post today?”. I also don’t spend more than 10 minutes to write a post unless it’s a book review, and I love being creative with it. I buy my books from either bookshops or online. My local Heffers bookshop is where I do my walk-in shopping, and my online shopping is done on eBay, Book depository, and I use Amazon for a different edition of classics. I just recently discovered hive.co.uk, which allows you to shop from independent bookshops within the UK.”
The important thing is trying to enjoy small things. It could be the sunset, a stroll with my bike, a cup of tea, or just sitting in the garden under the sunshine.
Nathasia Muwanigwa is currently pursuing a PhD in neurobiology at the University of Luxembourg. Her research focuses on stem cell based modeling of Parkinson’s disease at the Luxembourg Center for Systems Biomedicine. Nathasia has a Bachelors in Human Biology, summa cum laude, from the University of Nicosia (Cyprus) and a Research Master’s in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease from Radboud University (Netherlands). She is an early career panelist for Neuro Central, an online hub that delivers high quality content uniting neurology and neuroscience. Nathasia is a dedicated advocate for underrepresented individuals in STEM, particularly Africans in STEM who lack visibility on the global STEM landscape. She is a Co-Founder and Director of Visibility STEM Africa, an initiative changing the narrative surrounding African contributions to STEM. As a result of her advocacy, she was profiled in Forbes Science. Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
On her research about Parkinson’s disease:
“My research focuses on Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder globally. PD is characterized by the loss of a specific type of brain cell (dopaminergic neurons) from the midbrain. Symptomatically, PD patients present with tremor, muscle rigidity and slow movement amongst other symptoms. For my research, I make use of stem cell derived “minibrains” (aka organoids) that mimic human brain development. The aim of my research is to use these minibrains to model the changes that occur in the brain during the progression of PD in order to discover new molecular pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic interventions and drug discovery.”
On whether people with Parkinson’s can have good quality of life:
“One of the most challenging aspects of Parkinson’s is it is a progressive disorder, meaning symptoms worsen over time. This can make maintaining a good quality of life challenging as the condition progresses. Some PD patients are responsive to drugs that slow the progression of the disease, but for many, these drugs may not have any effect. There are lifestyle changes that PD patients can make that can prolong their mobility. Regular exercise at early diagnosis is important in maintaining mobility and balance. Maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated can be helpful particularly in avoiding some of the gastrointestinal issues associated with PD. There is substantial research going into improving early detection of PD and researchers are exploring various therapies, which will help in slowing down the progression of the disease.”
On how Zimbabwe treats older adults:
Generally, in my experience, Zimbabweans hold family to high importance. Family is at the backbone of Zimbabwean culture. When family members get older, it is quite common that they may move in with their adult children. Otherwise, in some cases people will hire caregivers for their parents when they are unable to care for themselves. However, given the current economic challenges in the country, much of the older population is not receiving sufficient medical care and support, despite their family’s efforts. Limited resources and a poor healthcare system has rendered the older populations quite vulnerable.
On her thoughts about aging gracefully versus cosmetic treatments:
“To me aging gracefully is entering your older years with confidence. How you achieve that is entirely up to an individual. I think there is nothing wrong with getting cosmetic treatments if that is what you want and it makes you feel good. I am a big believer in people having autonomy over their own bodies and making informed decisions that suit them. I think what is most important is having a good understanding of what the cosmetic treatments do and have realistic expectations. There are steps people can take to “age gracefully” without cosmetic procedures too. For example, starting a good skincare routine in your 20’s and 30’s is beneficial for healthy skin as well as eating well, exercising and self-care.”
On her future goals:
I definitely want to continue in science, although time will tell whether I will remain in academia or pursue other avenues, such as science communication. I am excited about the future of Visibility STEM Africa (VSA). The initiative aims to give visibility to Africans in STEM both on the continent and in the diaspora in order to provide visible role models for young Africans interested in pursuing STEM careers. To learn more, follow VSA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn! I also serve on a board of directors the Biotech Institute (Zimbabwe), a private hybrid academic-biotechnology research institution that focuses on both basic and translational research in the areas of biomedicine and agriculture.
Aging gracefully is entering your older years with confidence. How you achieve that is entirely up to an individual.
Name: Sachi Shah Job: International Development Practitioner Country: Malawi and India Age: 28
Sachi Shah serves as founder/director of Truss Group, a multi-faceted social enterprise that works towards environmental sustainability and human health improvement in low-income urban areas in Malawi. She has worked as a Global Health Corps fellow and Communications and Programs Associate at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark. Previously, Sachi wrote and edited for Global Health Aging and has interned with The Rockefeller Foundation among other organizations. Find Shah on LinkedIn and Truss Group on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
On her job description: “I run a social enterprise in Blantyre, Malawi that focuses on waste management, and plastic recycling. We create cement substitutes from recycled plastic and focus on high-impact building projects such as disaster-resistant housing and pit latrines.
We are aiming to come up with a model for disaster resistant housing before the end of the year. We are also looking at how we can move into exploring other infrastructure that can support better health and environments beyond waste management. Outside of work, I like to watch spend time in nature and with friends, watch movies, and read.”
On why she started the Truss Group “Truss is an extension of a project I started with high-school students four years ago in Blantyre. I believe that if spaces are freed of waste, and more sustainable construction is encouraged in urban areas, then human and environmental health will benefit exponentially. I wanted to return to do more than just volunteer work for a couple of months.”
On how environmental sustainability affects human health: “Mismanaged waste is known to breed diseases and negatively affect both human and environmental health and productivity. A healthy environment benefits everyone, especially children and vulnerable older adults who live at risk in the community.
On her experience as a fellow with Global Health Corps: “I did communications, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and health program development for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark in the USA during my fellowship year. Global Health Corps is a wonderful world-wide community of dedicated professionals working to develop better health care for all. It is also a very supportive community invested in peer learning.”
On her proudest moment(s): “I think my ability to be resilient and resourceful. Entrepreneurship requires you to learn this and quickly. I serve on the board of Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA), a Malawian non-governmental organization (NGO) for sustainable energy and manages the Blantyre Farmer’s Market. I have also pursued research and fieldwork in various subjects including, water, sanitation, and hygiene 9(WASH), sustainable energy, child development, urban design 10 and policy, environmental policy, and movement building.”
Better health infrastructure, decreased corruption, and waste management are top three needs in Malawi.
Name: Vanessa Rissetto Job: Dietitian Entrepreneur Country: United States Age: 40
Vanessa Rissetto is on a mission to promote healthy eating. She is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist who specializes in Weight Loss, Weight Management, and Medical Nutrition Therapy as it relates to Diabetes, Cardiac Disease, and Gastrointestinal Issues. Her media appearances include Hallmark Channel, Refinery29, Men’s Health, and Chicago Tribune, among others. A chocolate lover, Rissetto lives in the USA with her husband, daughter, son, and four-legged friend Marley! Find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her website.
On why she chose to study nutrition:
“I was always interested in science, medicine, nutrition, so I decided to take a few classes at New York University to see if it would be something I would want to pursue – it was!”
On what she has learned about the science behind nutrition:
“That it is science-based, and not just all these gimmicks that people are putting out there. Just because you hear of one study doesn’t mean it’s gospel. We have to find the reasons why and do a deeper dive.”
On how to make healthy eating affordable:
“It can be with proper planning. Just going to the supermarket without anything in mind can cause you to overspend. Having a handle on your schedule and the things you like to eat will ensure you don’t waste.”
On her favorite meal to make:
“I like to roast a chicken at the beginning of the week and use the remainder for a chicken salad or fajitas. It’s pretty versatile and easy to do.”
On her future goals:
“Honestly, I think if I can help people understand the science behind nutrition and get them to have a better relationship with food, then I can consider myself successful.”
It isn’t just about losing weight. It’s about feeling great, re-energizing, and finding a new lust for life.
This is Part 2 of a two-part series on elder abuse in South Africa. In Part 1, the main focus was raising awareness of elder abuse. In Part 2, societal responses from both public and private sectors are stressed.
As a result of recent news reports on elder abuse, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) visited KwaZulu-Natal from Aug. 15-19 to examine human rights matters impacting older adults and individuals with disabilities. The five-day visit was led by Commissioner Bokankatla Malatji who manages the portfolio on disability and older persons.
The government’s prompt response to elder abuse suggests that this problem is not being taken lightly. Elder abuse is any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person. It is one of many challenges faced by older people in South Africa. In fact, elder abuse is expected to rise as the population ages. This is not necessarily the case but societies that have no regard for elders will need to anticipate elder mistreatment if it is not tackled beforehand. Much like other nations around the world, the silver tsunami has left many nations ill-prepared; even the most developed countries are struggling to find solutions for the foreseeable challenges of the future. It is therefore the responsibility of both public and private sectors to make dignified and healthy aging a leading priority.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director (RD) for Africa, states that “only with full, strong political will and commitment by governments, participation of communities, families and individuals can we achieve the vision of a continent in which everyone can live a long and healthy life.” Hence societies must hold governments accountable to ensure expedient and beneficial outcomes.
As the global population continues to age, reaching an estimated 2 billion by 2050, it is imperative that nations take a multifaceted approach to ensure the protection of older adults. Elder abuse is not reserved exclusively for citizens of developing countries. It is a public health problem that goes beyond regions, languages and ethnicities.
WHO believes that in order to adequately address the issue of elder abuse across continents, citizens must utilize approaches that are “placed within a cultural context and considered alongside culturally specific risk factors.” Such methods, with the collaboration of “both primary care and social service sectors,” can enhance the comprehensiveness of future programs, policies and legislation.
Andria Reta-Henke is a Credentialed Professional Gerontologist and Professor of Health Administration.
This article is the first part of a two-part series on elder abuse in South Africa. Click here to read Part 2.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The United Nations established WEAAD to bring communities around the globe together in raising awareness about elder abuse. Although this problem is considered a public health issue, the World Health Organization has recognized that elder abuse remains a taboo which is often underestimated and ignored by many societies. This problem is perpetuated by societal attitudes and a lack of public knowledge about elder abuse. The abuse of older people is often viewed as a personal matter – it is not openly discussed. As a result, the prevalence of elder abuse is under-reported worldwide.
In South Africa, organizations like the Saartje Baartman Centre in Cape Town are helping those affected by elder abuse. Dorothy Gertse the head Social Worker at the center reports that a growing number of elderly women are seeking assistance due to abuse by younger relatives. Elder abuse is a broad term that is comprised of various acts such as physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment, and financial/economic abuse.
South Africa is currently experiencing a rise in economic abuse– individuals are seeking access to financial resources such as pensions and the homes of vulnerable older adults. Gertse states that family members are escorting the elderly to pension pay points and confiscating their finances. The rate of abuse has increased within the last 6 years; Femada Shamam, Chief Operating Officer for the Association for the Aged reports that in the 2010-2011 there were 1458 reported cases; this rose to 2497 cases in the 2012-2013 financial year.
The Older Person’s Act exists within South Africa’s Constitution and outlines the government’s obligation to protect the rights and uphold the safety of older persons. However, Shamam reports that many are unfamiliar with the act, and their role in upholding it. He states, “If you go to the police to report an incident, they wouldn’t know they have the authority to remove the alleged perpetrators.” Thankfully organizations like the Saartje Baartman Centre and The Go Turquoise for the Elderly are creating awareness surrounding issues faced by older persons in South Africa.
Andria Reta covers Africa for Global Health Aging. She is a Gerontologist and Professor of Health Administration.