Home General News Six Signs of Elder Abuse and How You Can Help

Six Signs of Elder Abuse and How You Can Help

by ervte

There is no excuse for abuse! Yet many older adults experience severe physical, social, financial, psychological, and sexual abuse and neglect. Indeed, many victims of elder abuse experience multiple forms of abuse. The UN has declared Wednesday, 15 June, World Elderly Abuse Day, as an estimated 10 percent of older people experience elder abuse. But while domestic violence and child abuse make regular headlines, as they should, we rarely hear about elder abuse.

Enid* needed help dressing, showering, and going to the toilet. Her daughter used her smartphone to take intimate photos of her and threatened to share them if Enid didn’t “behave”.Six Signs of Elder Abuse and How You Can Help

This lack of awareness is partly because age discrimination is systemic worldwide, with the 2021 WHO report showing that half of the world’s population is older. As if that weren’t scary enough, data from UnitingCare Queensland shows that reports of elder abuse in Queensland have increased by 34 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest number ever reported. Unfortunately, we know that elder abuse reporting is critically low. This is because abusers can easily limit a person’s ability to report crimes through threats and not provide a phone, and 95 percent of the abusers are family members. Imagine calling the authorities to say your child is abusing you; the emotional toll is terrible.

You will never see your grandchildren.

Peter was a 95-year-old widower who desperately wanted to maintain his independence and stay in his own home. His only daughter lived a few hours away and struggled to keep up with regular work. So she used to ask Peter for money and goods with the threat that he would not see his grandchildren.

It would be nice to think that elder abuse could not occur in our churches, but churches are full of sinners, and as with other forms of abuse, the Church is not immune. In addition, the signs of elder abuse can be difficult to distinguish from the challenges of aging. In addition, abusers often harass victims and groom family and friends by claiming that the signs are due to aging and dementia.

Six Signs of Elder Abuse

1. Physical injuries (bruises, cuts, and broken bones).2. Weight Loss.3. Loss or declining hygiene.4. Declining mental health (anxiety, depression, and confusion).5. Loss of items and money.6. Social abstinence.

The increasingly tight Australian housing market and the rising cost of living increase the risk of elder abuse. Lack of housing makes it harder to escape elder abuse, and financial pressures contribute to the most common form of abuse: financial abuse.

Whose house?

As Betty* got older, she needed more help around the house. So when her grandson lost his rent, it seemed perfect for him to move into her spare room. Over time, however, she became trapped in her room as he took over the house.

The good news is that both Christians and churches can vigorously combat elder abuse. From the pulpit, the commandments to love your neighbor and honor your parents are proclaimed, along with the reality that we are all of immutable worth because we were created in God’s image. Many churches have groups focused on interacting with older people who care for them and provide valuable rest and fellowship for caregivers. This is critical, as a major risk factor for elder abuse is the isolation of older people and their caregivers, who can become exhausted. Christians reach out to their neighborhood: helping with the groceries, regularly having a cup of tea with the lady down the street, and perhaps most powerfully, praying.

In this spirit, we can help prevent elder abuse by interacting with older people. If we were all associated with one older adult, the prevalence of elder abuse would decrease, and we would benefit from the privilege of such a relationship. Regarding our families, we also need to consider how we support older loved ones and who the primary caregiver is.

St. Anonymous’s

The congregation of St. Anonymous realized that they and their local community were aging. Initially, they planned to get a youth worker to revive the Church. However, they realized that all the other churches in the area were also full of older people and tried to attract the few young people who lived there.

So they did it radically – they decided to focus on caring for and reaching out to the older people in their community. It was difficult, but the Church grew in number and collected over time. Yes, there was a continuous flow of funerals, but there was rebirth, not in teenagers but in adults who were either rejoined or coming to faith.

Finally, we need to be aware of and fight against ageism. That starts with our thinking about the value of older people. We must remind ourselves that people’s worth is not in their youth, beauty, workability, or minds. The basis of abuse is the devaluation and dehumanization of the victim. We must watch our words; we don’t describe a person with cancer, so how is it appropriate for speaksomeonerson with dementia? Dementia is real, but it doesn’t define people. All humans are created in God’s image and of immeasurable value.

The only question is whether we will recognize that value and love one another as Christ loves us.

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