Elderly Israelis wait for their turn to vote .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry treated 5,318 senior citizens for abuse and neglect last year, the ministry said ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, marked annually on June 15.
Of those victims, 1,829 were treated for emotional abuse, 1,589 for neglect, 1,015 for physical abuse, 326 for deprivation of rights, 924 for financial exploitation, and 42 for sexual assault.
Some 18.4% of senior citizens in Israel were found to be exposed to more than one type of injury (from among physical, sexual, emotional, financial and deprivation of rights, according to a University of Haifa study.
In 2014, 166 injunctions were issued under the Law for the Defense of Protected Persons (1966), to take senior citizens out of their homes to be placed in the care of hospitals for medical treatment or in the care of an institution for longterm care.
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry, in partnership with the Health Ministry and JDC-ESHEL – The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel, will host a conference to mark a decade for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Monday at the Diamond Theater Auditorium in Ramat Gan.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz said on Sunday that the ministry is working on locating all those senior citizens at risk who are not currently reaching out to the welfare services.
Katz gave special thanks to the social workers working with senior citizens and added: “As I promised upon entering my position, I will reiterate and say that I will act and I will help to improve the quality of life for senior citizens in particular and for the weaker populations in Israel, in general.”
Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar proposed a bill on June 1 to allow guardians of dependents to video or secretly voice-record caregivers when they are alone with the dependents.
The legislation, which was initially submitted in July 2014 but was not voted upon due to the dispersion of the Knesset, is meant to allow for greater protection of dependents, such as infants in childcare and elderly citizens who are not able to care for themselves.
To maintain a proper balance between privacy rights and protecting dependents, under the bill caregivers must be given warning of video surveillance and are to be given full termination rights if they do not agree to the conditions and choose to leave their job.
The original bill was drafted after parents turned to Bar’s office following their discovery that their six-month-old daughter’s caregiver had been verbally abusing and neglecting her. The parents asked Bar to pass legislation that would legalize third-party surveillance in cases of dependents.
The current law only allows voice recordings if at least one party to the conversation has given consent. In the case of a dependent and a caregiver, it does not recognize the guardian’s right to record the sessions between the dependent and the caregiver.
“The possibility for families and those responsible for helpless people, whether it is young children, elderly or people with disabilities, to legally record or video the caregivers is important, necessary and may create deterrence and even expose cases of physical or verbal abuse,” explained Bar.
“Unfortunately, we have seen quite a few cases where this tool was used to expose crimes of serious abuse and was the only means available to the families to protect the helpless dependent. This is a law that seeks to balance and resolve the tension between the caregiver’s right to privacy and the security and well-being of the helpless dependent, and it is undoubtedly essential for both the helpless dependents and their families and for the caregivers,” he concluded.
Bar’s bill is co-sponsored by Kulanu MKs Merav Ben-Ari and Tali Ploskov, and Zionist Union MKs Yoel Hasson, Eitan Cabel, Dani Atar, Itzik Shmuli, Ksenia Svetlova and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin.