Abuse against elderly often unreported, says deputy minister

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh says her ministry is working on legislation to protect senior citizens against abuse. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: A deputy minister has decried what she says is a growing trend of children abusing their elderly parents after receiving a share of their property.

Hannah Yeoh, the deputy minister for women, family and community development, said senior citizens abused by family members often suffer in silence as they have no one to complain to.

“It’s not usual for parents to come to police stations and say their son has taken all their money. Financial abuse is often not reported,” she said at an event organised by the Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society (MHAS).

“We call upon senior citizens who need help to call our helpline at 15999 if they need to talk to somebody about financial abuse, so we can give them some advice,” she added.

Yeoh said her ministry was working on new legislation, which must be designed to address unreported abuse.

“If we want to have legislation, we have to ensure that it’s useful and that senior citizens can use it as a form of protection.

“There is no point having a brilliant piece of legislation if there is no reporting and they don’t know how to take action against family members,” she said.

She said her ministry would be holding roundtable dialogues on six areas of focus: healthcare, basic needs, income and financial aspects, employment opportunity, social integration and participation, safety and dignity.

She also noted opposition to the construction of nursing homes in residential areas which is more convenient for the elderly.

She said this was often caused by the “pantang” or taboo culture where members of the community feel that it will affect the value of property if senior citizens pass away there.