In the framework for the commemoration of the “National Day Against Abuse, Marginalization and Neglect Towards the Elderly” and also the “World Day on Awareness of Abuse in Old Age”, President Carlos Alvarado signed Law 9.857 that Penalizes Abandonment of the Elderly Citizens.
This Law establishes felony charges for abandonment and negligence towards the detriment of older adults, ranging from one month to ten years in prison, depending on the state of social, economic and health affectation suffered by the abandoned person.
“The Alvarado Quesada Administration continues to strengthen proactive actions that offer a better quality of life for older adults, a population that has historically been very vulnerable. With the signing of this Law we settle a historical debt with this population,” said the President of the Republic.
Likewise, the law indicates that the penalty would be 6 to 10 years in prison when abandonment leads to the death of the elderly person; between 3 and 6 years, when abandonment causes serious damage to their health; and between 6 months and 3 years, when its physical or psychological health is endangered.
It is a law that has the purpose of providing specific protection to the elderly population and a reality thanks to the joint effort of the Legislative Chamber and the Presidency of the Republic.
“Older adults are full subjects of rights who deserve dignified and respectful treatment for the enjoyment of an old age with quality of life. All these actions are of great importance in the face of the great challenge in the demographic increase of this sector of the population,” said the Vice President of the Republic, Marvin Rodríguez.
Abuse, marginalization, neglect and abuse against older adults gain visibility as a social problem in the country, although it is a global problem that, according to the United Nations, affects 1 in 6 people over 60 years of age worldwide.
According to government records, which only contemplate information collected directly by official institutions, During 2019, 1,130 complaints and consultations were reported on various topics related to the different forms of violence against older adults. And so far in 2020, there have been 537 complaints and inquiries of this type. These data do not include queries and complaints that come to other institutions such as 911, Police Delegations, Violence Courts and Health Centers.
Furthermore, it is estimated that there are situations of violence that are not reported by the elderly, for fear of reprisals. Likewise, this problem is reflected in the 690 older adults that the institution has relocated to homes and shelters, because they were addressed by the institutional program that cares for older adults in situations of abandonment or street dwellers. And currently there is a record of just over 200 cases that are in that condition and who are looking for an alternative so that they have a decent space to live.
According to the President of the Governing Board of CONAPAM (the official institution for senior citizens in the Country), Dr. Teresita Aguilar Mirambell, “the data on abandonment of older adults is alarming, that is why it is so important to have tools that facilitate the work of those who strive every day to day to eradicate the different forms of violence against this population, but especially that cruel form of mistreatment such as the abandonment of human beings who in many cases have given their lives for their families and their country, but when they reach age older, they are simply left in a defenseless state”.
In a complementary way, a cooperation and collaboration agreement has been formalized between public institutions, private companies and social welfare organizations, which will allow the implementation of the pilot plan for a free telephone line 800-0AMAYOR (800-0262967), for reporting cases of needy older adults throughout the national territory in order to comprehensively care for them through articulated services and respond to cases of danger or indigence, situations of risk and violence, condition of abandonment or homelessness. It is an alliance between CONAPAM and the company Homewatch CareGivers Costa Rica, the Cartago Association for Attention to Citizens in the Elderly (ASCATE) and the Shelter Association for the Rehabilitation of the Indigent Senior Adult, with the support of the office of the Second Vice Presidency of the Republic.
Likewise, communication and education actions for the older adult population in society, regarding their rights, are reinforced through an information campaign launched, which has the support of the Yamuni Foundation, and is led by the National Council of the Elderly, the Ministry of Health, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, the Mixed Institute of Social Aid, the National Emergency Commission and the Institute of Municipal Development and Advice, and is complemented by other actions such as the campaign published with the support of the United Nations and which is being broadcast by different media outlets in the country.