Statute of the elderly: Analysis of knowledge of older persons assisted by family health strategy
Introduction: The aging process is a multidimensional phenomenon that oftentimes imposes limitations on individuals, thereby contributing to their greater vulnerability. The growing number of elderly people in the Brazilian population and the expected increase in that number over the coming years have led to greater concern regarding the care given to these vulnerable people. One of the problems is the protection of their rights as elderly people. In that regard, the Statute of the Elderly (EI, in Portuguese), Law 10741, was enacted in 2003 providing for the rights that protect the elderly. Besides the existing laws, it is essential that elderly people become aware of their rights; however, studies on that topic are still incipient.
Goals: To describe what the elderly catered to by the Family Health Strategy (Estratégia Saúde da Família – ESF) know about the Statute of the Elderly. Methodology: This is a crosswise study based on observations. We interviewed 402 elderly people from 30 ESFs in the city of Porto Alegre – Brazil, who took part in the Porto Alegre Family Health Strategy’s Multidimensional Project for the Elderly. The interviewees answered a questionnaire about their knowledge of the Statute of the Elderly, comprising openand closed-ended questions. The research project was approved by the PUCRS Research Ethics Committee (Opinion 11/05609) and the elderly signed a free and informed consent form. The data was analyzed using the SPSS 17.0 by means of descriptive and analytical statistics (Chi-Square and Fisher’s exact tests).
Results: Most of the elderly interviewed were female (64.2%), had low schooling (82.6% were illiterate or elementary school dropouts), and earned little money (53% made up to one minimum monthly salary). The respondents’ main source of income was their pension (63.7%). The prevailing self-reported skin color was white (65.9%) and the most frequent marital status was married (40.3%), followed by widowed individuals (29.6%). Regarding the EI, most of the elderly (71.9%) were not aware of it. Of those who said they had heard about the EI, only 33.8% had attended some lecture, and 42.1% of them attended one at a hospital and 39.4% at elderly groups. The three rights the interviewed elderly showed to know more about were related to freedom (93.5%), to the one stating that no elderly person may be subjected to negligence, discrimination, violence, cruelty or oppression (90%), and those involving modes of transportation (85.8%). In turn, the rights the elderly know the least about were related to protection measures (94.3%), access to courts (90.8%) and the right to food (77.6%). We found a statistically significant association between knowledge of the EI and schooling (P=0.013). We did not find an association between gender and income.
Conclusion: Although the Statute of the Elderly dates back to 2003, the number of elderly people unaware of it is high and is associated with low schooling. Hence, it is necessary to expand education on this statutory instrument, because its existence is not enough if those protected by the rights are unaware of its contents.
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