This New Dawn

 Laurel Hall Author and PoetElder Abuse occurs any time a relationship exists where an older person trusts another for his welfare and that trust is broken causing harm to the older person.  The abuser, usually a caregiver, can be any of a number of people that the older person depends on for his health and well-being:  spouse or partner, brother, sister, child, even a friend, or neighbor.  Using his authority, muscle, and influence he causes harm, and affects the entire existence, comfort, safety, and health of the elder.   Elder abuse can be subtle, and difficult to detect, so the ability to recognize the warning signs of abuse is key to prevention and intervention.   The behavior of the caregiver, such as not allowing visitors, showing a lack of concern or referring to the elder as a “weight” or “load” may allude to signs of abuse.

Sometimes an elderly couple may just try to care for each other, living in their home with little help from family.  In this case their children may become financial abusers, feeling they’re just getting their inheritance early. 

In an institutional setting an attendant may just be cruel, but more frequently, it is due to lack of knowledge, training, support, insufficient resources or just poor practices. 

The consequences of elder abuse are serious.  An elderly person’s quality of life can be destroyed, causing a feeling of helplessness, intensified stress, psychological decay, depression and even dementia.  Declining functional abilities, malnutrition, and early death can also result from elder abuse.  The odds are that elder abuse will increase with the aging of the population.  It needs to be more widely acknowledged and addressed.

Caring for Victims,

Laurel Hall