Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the health of the elderly both worldwide and in Israel. In addition to the health hazards that prey on the elderly during the coronavirus period, the harm to their mental well-being and their basic rights cannot be ignored. Ageism and human rights abuses of elderly people are negative social phenomena which have been exacerbated by Covid-19. This article is based on a report (October2020) by the Israel Institute of Equality and Human Rights (The Zulat Institute) on the human rights issue of the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic whose authors are among its signatories.Aim: To describe the manifestations of ageism in relation to the elderly during the first and second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, based on a human rights approach.Method: This was a qualitative study, based on consultation with a multidisciplinary group of independent experts in a joint process – a modified Delphi process – of a structured discussion around an open questionnaire on the treatment of the elderly in Israel during the first and second coronavirus waves. During the discussion, the group focused on three major human rights relevant to the elderly at this time: the right to respect,the right to participate in decision making and the right to health.Findings: Government policy regarding the elderly in the first months of the outbreak of the pandemic was characterized by paternalistic overprotectiveness, ageism and violation of the human rights of elderly people to dignity, participation and health. In both geriatric and protected housing institutions, human rights violations of the residents were due to physical isolation and prolonged social distancing from their relatives. Even within the community, where 94% of the elderly live in Israel, many cases of severe bodily and mental health harm were observed resulting from isolation and exclusion. These vulnerabilities are the result, inter alia, of structural failures in the public system to support the elderly in Israel, including decentralization of governmental responsibility, chronic shortage of geriatric-nursing personnel, and privatization of community services for the elderly. In addition, patronizing and ageist attitudes to the elderly were discussed, as were their needs and what to do about them.Conclusions and recommendations: Policies that will lead to the eradication of ageism and the prohibition of age discrimination through legislation should be promoted, and the rights of the elderly to dignity, participation and health should be maintained. In addition, the social standing of the elderly should be strengthened, as should responses to the needs of the elderly in the community and geriatric institutions. Information suited to digital capabilities and language and cultural groups should be made accessible to encourage open and respectful dialogue with the elderly and their families about their wishes regarding the medical care they receive and where it will be provided. In this way health and social services for the old in the community can be strengthened.
|Translated title of the contribution||Expressions of ageism and human rights abuses of elderly people during the Covid-19 pandemic -insights from the first and second waves|
|Number of pages||24|
|State||Published - Nov 2022|