Aging comes with a wide variety of issues and relying on the care of your family is not a resource available to all. Whether it is due to lack of accessibility, estranged familial relationships, or advanced care requirements, many elderly find themselves alone in their older age.
This is not a phenomenon specific to America, it is an issue experienced by countries across the world. Certain cultures are more focused on caring for their elders, much like those elders helped raise them, while others have a less integrated idea of family including care for their elders.
In fact, the issue of elderly abandonment was such a large problem in Japan it was deemed “granny dumping”. While this practice, where senile senior citizens were taken up to the top of mountains and left there by loved ones due to the inability to care for them, is a very old practice, the modern version of abandonment is once against becoming a problem. Today, elderly individuals are being taken to local hospitals, churches and charities, and being left like they used to in the mountains.
This issue has been attributed to a number of factors, including, family size and work prioritization. Since family size has declined over the past few decades, families who are already struggling do not have the resources necessary in order to care for their parent or grandparent. Additionally, life expectancy continues to increase across the world; the oldest person known in Japan will be 117 years old this year. Families are also more heavily focused on worker and earnings instead of family orientation, which is a drastic change from traditional Japanese culture.
This same modern day issue has been reported in America, however elders are being left many places outside of hospitals and charities, sometimes just wherever they are. Today, the practice of granny dumping is considered elder abuse and thus can be punishable by law.
Punishments vary by state, however, courts do not look kindly on those found to be guilty of elder abuse. Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical abuse, financial exploitation, emotional abuse as well as neglect, which is what abandonment of an elder you care for would be considered.