Reports of elder mistreatment are piling up in the Republic of Cyprus, after a viral photo of a female patient on a hospital bed drew public condemnation and started a clash between health officials, with additional reports emerging about youths terrorizing senior citizens who live alone.
Cypriot gerontologist Marios Kyriazis has been accused by health officials of possibly violating privacy after he posted on social media a photo showing an elderly woman in a state hospital bed without any clothes.
After the photo went viral this week, the spokesperson for OKYPY State Health Services Organization, Charalambos Charilaou, suggested the image depicted an isolated incident.
'When you have someone high up at the [health] ministry who doesn’t prioritize elderly care, then this cultural problem trickles down and becomes an institutional issue'
“It is a photograph that depicts a given moment but this doesn’t mean the patient was left naked on the bed,” Charilaou said.
The OKYPY spokesperson also suggested that the photo had been taken without consent, while officials further raised privacy concerns.
Deflection tactics to avoid the issue
But Kyriazis believes the accusations are deflection tactics to avoid the issue, saying it goes deeper and calls for straightening out priorities as a society.
“How do they know that the photo was taken without consent from the family?” he told local media, adding that the woman had been naked for at least three hours.
The geriatrician told state radio on Wednesday morning that the photo did not violate any privacy, adding that he had received a handful of phone calls from people claiming the female patient in the picture was their mother.
“But you cannot even see her face, so this shows that there was no identifiable information that had been breached,” Kyriazis said, adding that many people experienced similar anguish over their loved ones.
Additional reports pointed to allegations of elderly patients being neglected, tied to their hospital beds, while in one incident a woman had been asking for water without response.
But allegations of elder mistreatment have also been made outside medical care.
Deliquent youths target senior citizens
A community leader in rural Nicosia says delinquent youths have been terrorizing senior citizens, especially those who live alone.
Klirou representative Savvas Eliofotou took to Facebook this week saying local youths often knock on elderly people’s doors at night and throw items at their windows.
Police called a small number of young persons down to the station where they were warned to refrain from illegal activity, according to Eliofotou, who also served as mayor of Strovolos.
But the former mayor, who said the problem could not be addressed by law enforcement alone, called on other stakeholders to get involved and also suggested neighborhood policing had declined due to ministry decisions.
Decisions higher up
Eliofotou noted on Facebook that neighborhood policing had declined after the justice ministry came up with neighborhood watch, arguing that false starts and lack of support rendered both methods ineffective.
Kyriazis, who plans to sue OKYPY for defamation, also believes some problems in hospitals could be linked to the higher ups.
“When you have someone high up at the [health] ministry who doesn’t prioritize elderly care, then this cultural problem trickles down and becomes an institutional issue,” the geriatrician said.
“It certainly has to do with culture at all levels,” Kyriazis added.