Most of us tend to age over the years. The sad truth is that the older we get, our bodies are often not as strong and resilient as they used to be. The joints complain when bad weather or something happens, which most people deny. But with age comes wisdom; at least it’s supposed to come that way. I look around me at almost every facet of my life. Not only am I aging, but so are all the others that I know. It’s hard for me to fathom how former students of mine are now in their thirties with their children. My heart aches at the thought that people I know and love who are aging are now going into assisted living arrangements. Sometimes those arrangements can be deadly.
According to the National Council of Aging, almost one in ten Americans ages sixty and above face abuse. While that number doesn’t sound too high to most people, abuse should not exist, period. The information that the NCOA states are as follows. “How many older Americans are abused? Approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elders face abuse each year. One study estimated that only one in 24 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.” The fact remains that elder abuse is happening more and more, getting worse in many different areas.
It’s challenging enough in this world because of covid at the moment. But when the elderly began going into assisted living facilities, there were some valid concerns about how they get treated. My dad used to tell me some of the horror stories that occurred within the facilities. Some staff used to abuse the patients because they knew they could get away with it. If the patients didn’t do what the team wanted them to do, they could easily overpower them. Dad would make surprise visits to the nursing home to catch some staff abusing those patients. I never understood why people felt the need to hit another human being when it’s not warranted. I mean, I could appreciate self-defense or in sporting events that are entirely different from hitting an older person who cannot defend themselves or does not have the reflexes needed to protect themselves. To me, that is incomprehensible.
It’s a known fact that our reflexes are never as good as they were in our prime when we age. Only a tiny amount of the population retains a good portion of their strength. Many of my friends are in their fifties, and their bodies are already falling apart. Two of those friends had to go on disability much earlier than anticipated. They are fortunate because they have family who helps take care of them. But when you think about other facilities where people go to recover, it can be an eye-opening experience to walk the house of a nursing home facility.
I visited another friend of mine in the nursing home a few years ago. He was recovering from a long-term illness and expected to leave the facility’s care. But the room that everybody gathered in to play games and socialize reminded me of the movie Awakenings with Robin Williams. Most residents sat there with glazed expressions on their faces by not moving. They had no interest in participating in anything because their bodies were there, but they were gone. You could tell that they felt abandoned and alone. Three of the residents there had bruises all along with their bodies.
It was a conversation with another co-worker Monday that shook me to my core. She has an elderly couple that she rents to whose children neglect them and steal their food. They have one adult child who came back to protect the parents from the rest of the family. My blood boiled when I heard what the other children did to their folks. Many of us will become seniors at some point in our lives. How will we feel if we are the ones facing abuse? Will we get angry? I hope so. I’ve always heard that issues don’t matter to most people until they deal with those same issues themselves.
When my Grandmother collapsed and went to the hospital, the orderly treated her like a sack of potatoes. The first words out of her mouth were, “There will come a day where he will be the one on the table and will learn how it feels to be hurting when moving from one point to the other.” I’ve never forgotten those words. My hope is that if you know of someone facing abuse, please find a way to help them. Life is hard enough for many people. Abuse isn’t something anyone should face. If you see any type of abuse going on with a child, a person, or an elder, you may want to help if you can. There are programs and resources available, but sometimes people aren’t aware of their options.
The following information came directly from the US Department of Health and Services.
“How do I report elder abuse or abuse of an older person or senior?
Call the police or 9-1-1 immediately if someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger.
If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone. Relay your concerns to the local adult protective services, long-term care ombudsman, or the police.
If you have been the victim of abuse, exploitation, or neglect, you are not alone. Many people care and can help. Please tell your doctor, a friend, or a family member you trust, or call the Eldercare Locator help line immediately.
You can reach the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116. Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
The laws in most states require helping professions in the front lines — such as doctors and home health providers — to report suspected abuse or neglect. These professionals are called mandated reporters. Under the laws of eight states, “any person” is required to report a suspicion of mistreatment.
- National Center on Elder Abuse Listing of State Elder Abuse Hotlines
- Eldercare Locator: Community Assistance for Seniors“
Children and the elderly often find it difficult to fight back. Instead of society sweeping these issues under the rug, I hope more awareness can help shed light on these topics and help us all end the various stages of abuse once and for all. Have a great day, everyone.