Increasing number of elders abused for property

Increasing number of elders abused for property

Instances of children mistreating their parents has increased since 2017

Cases of harassment and abuse of elders are on the rise in Bengaluru, according to counsellors with the Elders’ Helpline. They note that property-related issues are at the top of the list. 

According to statistics provided by the helpline, the cases of parents abused by their wards registered in 2017 was 171. The number increased to 233 in 2018 and stands at 234 in 2019.

Senior counsellors with the service say that they get at least five calls a day from senior citizens, seeking information on how to deal with issues related to property disputes.

Sandhya G, project in-charge with Elders’ Helpline, points out that the problem is largely prevalent among the middle class. “In most cases, children promise to look after their parents after they hand over the property and change track after the deal is done. We have cases where the parents come seeking help, unable to bear the verbal abuse from their children. Mental and emotional harassment has far-reaching implications than physical abuse,” says Sandhya, who has been with the helpline for the last nine years.

She also says among the type of cases that come to her, those related to gift deeds are on the higher side. “In some cases, parents would have given their property to children in the form of a gift deed. If they run into a property-dispute, then parents can challenge this in the court and reclaim their property within three months.”

Senior officers with the Bengaluru City Police also confirm that property-related disputes involving elders are on the rise. They attribute the trend to the increase in land value and instability in the job market.

Deputy commissioner of police (CCB) S Girish says property-related disputes are increasing because children are feeling insecure.

He explains, “Those who earn anything between Rs 50,000 and one lakh rupees per month know that it is not easy to make four to five crore rupees within a short time. That’s when they start pressing their parents to part with their property worth crores of rupees. Some also feel that this is the best way to make fast money.”

Increasing land value is what has further fuelled such rivalry within the families. Girish advises that parents must have a clear idea about distributing their property among their children.

“Parents should be clear about which of their children is getting what property. They must also raise their children in such a way that they learn to earn themselves and not hanker after ancestral property,” he adds. 

Widening generation gap causes friction, says helpline member
Radha S Murthy, managing trustee, Nightingales Medical Trust, that runs the helpline along with the Bengaluru City Police, blames the widening generation gap and lack of respect for parents by the children for the spike in the cases of abuse. “We have seen cases where the elders in the family are not able to adjust to the changing lifestyle of their children and want to either dispose of their property or move out and stay by themselves. There are also instances where children convince their parents to part with their property to avail a loan or depend on their parent’s property to clear a debt. This causes a lot of friction between parents and their children,” explains Radha. What kind of abuse do parents face? Radha explains, “The harassment and abuse could be mental or physical. If there is any resistance to part with the property, children sometimes push their parents out of their homes or deny them food and medical treatment until they give in to their demands.” She observes that the maximum cases come in from children aged between 40 and 50 years.

Seek help
The Elders’ Helpline is 080 22943226 and the toll-free number is 1090. Increasing numbers of parents abused by their children

Many parents don’t encourage children to be independent
Dr Divyashree K R, consultant psychiatrist, Aster CMI, feels youngsters hanker after their parent’s property because they have grown up in an environment where they feel that whatever the family wealth will be inherited by them. “It is a combination of the ever-increasing need for a better quality of life and a sense of entitlement among youngsters. There is no inherent motivation to launch out and make it on their own. It is what we call ‘Peter Pan syndrome.’

In such a background, they feel increasingly frustrated that the parents are in the way of what is rightfully theirs,”explains Dr Divyashree. She adds that this frustration could provoke them to abuse the elderly.

“A lot of it is also related to the way children are brought up. Parents don’t encourage children to be independent and perceive themselves as individuals who have to discover their identity and purpose outside the family context. This is the root cause for the problem,” adds Dr Divyashree.

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