Stories of elderly abuse read and discussed in public forum

Thursday was World Elder Abuse Day, drawing attention to the rarely discussed issue of the mistreatment of senior citizens. The day was marked in the Czech Republic by a special reading on the subject - featuring the emotional testimonies of victims and witnesses - and a panel discussion. Michael Longaro was there.

The actress and former MP Tanya Fischerova reads the disheartening story of a wheelchair bound old lady cheated out of her property by her son at a reading, which was part of a special event aimed at drawing attention to the issue of abuse of the elderly in the Czech Republic and elsewhere. The reading, held at a Prague theatre, was organised by Zivot Devadesat, or Life 90, one of the most active charities helping the elderly in this country. Its director is Jan Lorman.

"The problem of elderly abuse is a very difficult, very heavy problem not only in the Czech Republic but is a problem in Europe and the whole world. And today there has been celebrated as a world awareness day of elderly abuse because this is a very heated problem and we need to improve communication about this problem, we need to publicize causes of elderly violence and violence against the elderly and to improve the condition for solution of this phenomenon."

Jakub Valenta is Zivot Devadesat's press spokesperson - he told me more about how his organisation aims to solve this troubling phenomenon.

"First we have to raise the public awareness of this problem. Then we have to offer the information, to tell the elderly where they can go where they can call if they are abused and to tell the public look around and see if anybody is abused, and if he is there should be information on where to call and what to do. So our basic goal right now is to offer the information and we would like to continue what we are already doing, that is offering the place where to go, where to meet other people, other elderly."

The stories read at the event by Ms. Fischerova and fellow actors Jana Stepankova and Jan Hartel, have been collected by Zivot Devadesat's emergency hotline, South Bohemia University, and witnesses from Prague retirement homes in a publication called Stop Violence Against Seniors.