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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Here Is Why Financial Independence Is Important For Senior Citizens

Around two-third of the elderly experience abuse from their family members and suffer. Here’s how financial independence can help them

Versha Jain
June 14, 2023
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Here Is Why Financial Independence Is Important For Senior Citizens

On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), a survey by a non-government organisation (NGO) has revealed a sordid tale of misery and ill-treatment that seniors have to go through at the hands of their blood relatives in their twilight years.

Around two-third of the 5,000 elderly surveyed by Agewell Foundation said they faced mistreatment, humiliation, and harassment from their family members, including children, relatives, and others.

Conducted in the first week of June 2023, ahead of WEAAD, the survey reported that approximately 77 per cent of the respondents did not have any knowledge about human rights.

They never protested against the abuse because of several emotional, physical, and financial support reasons, PTI quoted the report.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) officially recognised June 15 as ‘WEAAD’ in December 2011 to bring attention to the issue.

Since then, the day has been observed every year as WEAAD to spread awareness about the neglect and ill-treatment the elderly experience in their life as well as to encourage people and communities across the world to prevent their abuse.

According to the report, the elderly fear isolation and loneliness, and thus compromise even when they face abuse. Older women are more prone to abuse because of their dependency on others for financial and psychological needs.

While it may be difficult to deal with physical, psychological and emotional abuse, one aspect that the elderly can take care of is their finances. Financial freedom in retirement can help them avoid abusive situations.

Why Is Financial Independence Important For Seniors?

It is important to be financially independent, as many problems, if not all, would not arise if the elderly are financially independent. There could be various expenses related to lifestyle, hobbies, healthcare, etc., for which one can be restricted if financially dependent on others.

Says Kiran Telang, a certified financial planner: “Financial independence is important at all stages in life, more so in advanced age. Money can buy comforts and service, in addition to providing the basic necessities of life. Not having enough to meet needs and wants at an age where earning from one’s efforts is not a choice, can be a painful situation.”

Financial independence matters most in case of an unexpected medical need where an elderly person need not depend on others, at least for money. They can maintain dignity if their finances are in place to manage such things.

Financial independence may also give a sense of control to the elderly, as they could feel empowered and able to get the support, services, etc. when they need.

Also, having finances of their own, besides giving them a sense of security, will also earn them respect from their family because they are independent and not dependent on them for their bare daily living expenses. Moreover, the finances can outlive them and they can bequeath it to the next generation.

So, how should one plan to be financially independent and what is the right age to start this?

Telang adds: “Saving and investing in a disciplined manner over one’s entire earning period is a simple but very powerful way to gain financial independence. More often than not, people tend to keep searching for products that give the highest return, and lose time in the bargain. Starting as early as possible is good, as the power of compounding can create a substantial corpus over longer time horizons.”

Also, it is crucial for seniors to be aware of their rights and reach out to the people or authorities who can offer them help if they face abuse.

There are various laws in the interest of seniors such as the ‘Maintenance and Welfare of parents and senior citizens, 2007’, under which they can ask for the maintenance from their ‘children, grandchildren or relatives, inclusive of food, clothing, residence, medical attendance and treatment’.

The critical thing is to be emotionally strong and financially sustainable.

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