World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Human rights of older persons, who cares?

Brussels, 13 June 2014

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 15 June

Human rights of older persons, who cares?

Unfortunately still nowadays, some situations of abuse appear to be commonplace in old age. The crisis has made it even worse for older people to access their rights, and older people receiving care are particularly vulnerable. On the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, AGE Platform Europe would like to call on EU policymakers to make sure the rights of older people in need of care are fully realised.


Elder abuse occurs in all EU countries and in all care settings. Although information on its prevalence across the EU is incomplete, several surveys have increased knowledge of the scale and types of the problem. Nevertheless, the real extent of elder abuse remains unknown due to poor statistics, underreporting and refusal by societies to admit the existence of abuse and neglect.

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15th June serves as a momentum to acknowledge that, unless our societies define, detect and address elder abuse, the violations of older persons’ human rights to dignity, autonomy and independence will continue to be underdiagnosed and overlooked. The crisis creates an additional pressure on social and health systems which fail to deliver appropriate care, and impedes older persons from claiming and accessing their rights. Their dignity and, in some cases, their life are at stake.

Elder abuse may represent a deliberate attempt to harm older persons, but often habits, routines or rudimentary care delivery lead to breaches of the human rights due to poor quality of care and lack of access to appropriate support services. Neglect - although less visible - is also an important aspect of elder abuse. In 2013 a regional symposium on preventing abuse and neglect of older persons in Europe was organised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for Europe jointly with the European Commission (Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) stressing that insufficient investment in prevention, independent living and high quality care could be seen as undermining older persons’ human rights.

Building on the achievements of this event, AGE is organising together with the Council of Europe and the European Commission a seminar on the human rights of older persons in care in Brussels on 23rd June. Through this key event, we would like to raise awareness and understanding among policymakers, civil society and other relevant stakeholders of the changing political and legal framework in this area, and discuss how best to protect older persons from abuse through a rights-based approach to long-term care.

The seminar will discuss two key initiatives that have enhanced Europe’s interest in the issue of older people’s human rights and in the situation of older people in need of long-term care: the recent Council of Europe recommendation on the promotion of human rights of older persons and the upcoming Social Protection Committee report on long-term care. Ultimately, AGE hopes that this seminar will act as a catalyst to the adoption and implementation of effective measures that will reconcile human rights with the social investment approach.

On the occasion of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, AGE calls on the EU take concrete and effective action to fight elder abuse in particular through:

  • Launching an EU strategy to fight elder abuse based on the European Charter of the rights and responsibilities of older persons in need of care, developed by the DAPHNE Eustacea project, in order to improve EU member states’ cooperation in that area;
  • Adopting a European quality framework for long-term care services, to make sure everywhere in Europe older people can have access to quality care services;
  • Ensuring that the EU fundamental rights strategy adequately addresses the rights of older persons in need of long-term care and assistance;
  • Promoting multi-stakeholder engagement to discuss and implement the rights of older people, ensuring that the voice of older persons is heard in the debate on strengthening the protection of their rights in Europe and worldwide.

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Useful links:


Link to this press release in pdf format

Communiqué de presse en français 



Friday 13 June 2014
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