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Technology biggest headache for elderly

Friday, 14th June 2013  I  For immediate release

Coping with fast-changing technology is one of the biggest challenges faced by older people, The Salvation Army has said on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June).

Speaking on the eve of the United Nations’-designated day, Major Collette Leitch of the Emmarentia Eventide Home, said that older people found the world of automated cash machines and internet transactions to be very impersonal and missed the human contact they used to have in dealing with their financial affairs. While many older people are also willing to learn new technology, they needed to have it explained to them slowly and carefully – and sometimes repeatedly.

Major Leitch said she had come across many forms of abuse of older people in her years of experience in working with them. These included physical, psychological, emotional and economic abuse. “It’s not always easy to look after older people. As they become frail, their caregivers get upset with them for wetting their beds, for example. Looking after a frail older person is often full-time work,” she said. Major Leitch added that another form of abuse suffered by older people was to be degraded, humiliated, insulted and ridiculed.

“They are often threatened with loss of financial and lifestyle independence. In some cases, their pensions are taken away from them,” she said. She added: “In past years, younger people loved to listen to the stories that old people told. Nowadays, however, their stories are not valued in a world that moves too fast.” Major Leitch called for more interaction with older people, and greater tolerance and understanding to help them feel that they still have a role to play in society. “A starting point can be schools getting more involved with older people. Another idea is for senior citizen days at shops and malls, for example.”

According to the United Nations, the world is currently undergoing significant demographic changes. UN estimates indicate that by 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people. These changes have led to a worldwide recognition of the problems and challenges that face the elderly.

The United Nations says research has shown that elderly abuse, neglect, violence, and exploitation are the biggest issues facing senior citizens around the world. World Health Organization data suggests that 4 to 6 per cent of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported.

The Salvation Army operates Aged Care Centres in Durban (Thembela), Johannesburg (Emmarentia Eventide Home), Soweto (Ephraim Zulu Senior Citizen Centre) and Cape Town (Beth Rogelim). All centres provide programmes that assist their residents to keep active and provide help with mental, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives. Within the corps (churches) of The Salvation Army, there are different programmes that assist the elderly with feeding, support and activities that aid the elderly to connect with other members in the community. They also assist in their nutrition, physical, social and spiritual support. Community activities include feeding programmes, distribution of food parcels, soup kitchens at pension points, visiting and assisting the elderly with activities of daily living, such as cleaning, gardening and preparation of meals in their own homes.

The Southern Africa Territory of The Salvation Army encompasses four countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – and the island of St Helena. Its officers, soldiers and full-time employees provide their spiritual and community services through approximately 230 corps (churches), societies and outposts, as well as through schools, hospitals, institutions for children, street children, the elderly, men and abused women, and daycare, goodwill, rehabilitation and social centres.


Media Contact: Ruth Coggin
Tel: 011-487-0026
Cell: 082-903-5819
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Client Contact: Major Carin Holmes
Public Relations Secretary
Tel: 011-718-6745
Cell: 082-994-4351
Click here to e-mail Carin