ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit: Elder Abuse
“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.
I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:32, NI)
Last month we celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday. I was thrilled that my fiancé and her only grandchild were there for the momentous occasion. As I looked at her I couldn’t help but feel happy that she is still around. She and I used to live together until I moved out. For a little while she lived on her own but after she had a fall, my sister and I decided that the best thing for her was a nursing home where she would be safe and have access to any care she might need. Initially it was hard for her because she was such an independent person who loved living in her own place but she had adjusted to her new home and is involved in many activities. I am thankful that she is in a facility where she is receiving the best care. When my mother has to go for an appointment, my sister would take her. She would visit her most weekends. My mother is very fortunate to have such a devoted daughter. Not everyone is so fortunate.
I never knew that there was such a thing as elder abuse until I came to North America. Elder Abuse is harm that is caused to a person 65 years of age or older, by another person in a position of trust or authority. Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives: most often in the home where abusers are apt to be adult children; other family members such as grandchildren; or spouses/partners of elders. Institutional settings especially long-term care facilities can also be sources of elder abuse (http://helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm).
I was shocked to learn that people would intentionally hurt an elderly person. When I think of my mother who looks so fragile sometimes, I can’t imagine that anyone would want to harm her. It’s funny how we feel as protective over the elderly as we do over children. They are both so vulnerable.
I have seen Public Service Announcements about elder abuse and was deeply hurt by the images of a woman who slapped her father because she tripped over his walking stick or of the man who was yelling at his mother as he had a vice grip on her arm or of the young man who was taking cash out of his grandmother’s wallet or the man who was stealing money from his mother despite his wife’s objections and we see a shot of the mother sitting listlessly on the bed. There was an aura of self-defeat about her. How heartbreaking it was to see these poor individuals suffering at the hands of the same people they loved and cared for.
Elder abuse can take many forms: Physical, Emotional/Psychological, Financial and Neglect.
SIGNS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE
*Cuts, Bruises, welts, burns *Unexplained Injuries
SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE
*Depression *Helplessness, fear agitation
*Hesitation to talk openly
SIGNS OF FINANCIAL ABUSE
*Power of attorney has been changed
*Change in the level of care
*Lost jewelry or silverware
*Signing legal documents that you do not understand
SIGNS OF NEGLECT
Inadequate clothing, malnourishment or dehydration
An untreated medical condition or injury
Poor skin condition or hygiene
Being denied / not provided with necessities of life or health care needs
REASONS WHY ABUSE IS SELDOM REPORTED
* Be under the control of the abuser and so, are dependent for food, shelter, clothing and health care
* Fear retaliation or institutionalization
* Feel shame or embarrassment
* Believe that the police or other agencies can’t help them
* Know your rights and ask for advice / assistance
* Consider a power of attorney for management of your finances and personal care in the event you become ‘incapable’, but check with a lawyer first
* Ensure that your power of attorney is someone you can trust
* Use direct deposit for your pension cheques
* Be cautious about whom you permit to reside in your home – especially those with drug, alcohol or other addictions
* Be aware of available local community services
If you have concerns about a senior, call your local police. To report abuse anonymously, call Senior Crime stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
I was always taught to respect my elders. This should not change when we become adults.
We should be celebrating our parents’ and grandparents’ lives and be thankful that they are still with us.
Adele Butler, A Celebration of Women, 2011.
NROCRC elder abuse. LINK: http://www.yourottawaregion.com/yourottawaregion/article/951867Sophia Aggelonitis, the Minister Responsible for Seniors, met with staff and clients at the Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre to talk about elder abuse and the province’s committment to prevention. Jennifer McIntosh
WIKIPEDIA, June 15 is Elder Abuse Day: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_abuse
ADELE BUTLER – Women of Spirit: Elder Abuse
February 26, 2011 By 1 Comment