(Source: CD/Sant’Egidio)

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Pope Francis also has added his voice to the many asking to #saveourelderly.

In a tweet, the pope said “The #Covid19 pandemic has shown that our societies are not organized well enough to make room for the elderly, with proper respect for their dignity and frailty. When the elderly are not cared for, there is no future for the young. #WEAAD2020“.

The Community of Sant’Egidio celebrates World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by re-launching the collection of signatures to the international appeal “There is no Future Without the Elderly” – to stop all forms of selective health care.

Among the first signatories of the appeal, there are Prof. Riccardi, Prodi, Habermas, Sachs, Gonzalez, Pöttering, Zuppi, Bokova, De Rita, and other important European and worldwide names.

Tens of thousands of citizens have already joined, together with new personalities from different sectors, including Architect Renzo Piano, Secretary General of CISL Anna Maria Furlan, Survivor of the Shoah Sami Modiano, the writer Paolo Rumiz, the TV presenter Flavio Insinna and the singer-songwriter Claudio Baglioni.

The appeal comes from the bitter observation of the very high number of victims of COVID-19 among the elderly population – particularly among the older people living in care homes – and proposes a radical change of mentality leading to new social and health care initiatives.

Already in 2018 the WHO reported the abuse rates in institutions as much higher than in community environment. The forms of mistreatment denounced in the report were: physical restrictions, deprivation of dignity, levies on daily chores, intentional provision of insufficient care, negligence and emotional abuse.

The situation worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a very high rate of deaths in institutions – about twice as high as the elderly living at home, according to the Higher Institute of Health.

For this reason, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with the International Appeal, reiterates to local and governmental administrations the need to achieve as soon as possible a new health care system giving priority to home treatments and care for the elderly.

More on Novena on the Church’s efforts to stop elder abuse:

“Lessons must be learned”: Irish Bishops call for inquiry into “distressing” rate of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes

“The generation that built Europe cannot be left to die”: Sant’Egidio launches urgent appeal for elderly in COVID-19

EU Bishops denounce hospitals were “forced” to prioritise younger patients over elderly during peak of COVID-19

Sant’Egidio founder denounces “massacre” of elderly in nursing homes: “Institutionalisation cannot be the norm”

Vatican cardinal denounces COVID-19 exposing “vulnerability and fragility” of elderly in nursing homes


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.