What can we do to stop Elder abuse in and among the Elderly
Where is the respect
When we are young, we are taught to respect our elders and yet there is still elder abiuse.
It is estimated there are 3.5 million cases each year directed at elder abuse. It is an outrage. We must put a stop to this in our society, when our elderly are no longer respected and ignored. Where are the children?
Personally I find this disrespect is such a dishonor to God and the family, it just disgusts me.
I realize these are strong words but the actions taken by others who misuse their power should be held accountable.
There are many types of elder abuse from physical and emotional, to neglect and abandonment. Taking advantage of an elder’s funds or assets is also considered a form of elder abuse.
Neglect can take on many forms, such as the refusal or failure to provide for life’s provisions (shelter, food, or clothing for example).
Mickey Rooney's story
Mickey Rooney, a well-known child actor from late 1930s, recently appeared before congress about elder abuse.
Embarrassed and ashamed he spoke out against elder abuse in a hope to bring stronger laws. In raising awareness and to fight elder abuse, he described his own personal abuse. Financially robbed by his stepson, Mickey Rooney shared his painful story. For 20 years family members misused his money, he was neglected and spoken to without any respect. Many times left without food, he claimed to have had several of his personal treasures stolen.
Hoping other seniors would come forward this special committee in Congress listened to Mr. Rooney describe his abuse. His personal testimony was heartbreaking to watch. He said he wanted to let others know it's nothing to be ashamed about and they were not alone in this situation.
Last September, Mr. Rooney turned 90 years young. In February of this year, he was granted a temporary restraining order against his stepson, before he appeared before the U.S Senate. Featured in countless movies, Mickey Rooney is probably best known for his role in the movie, “Boys Town.” Filmed in 1938 starring Spencer Tracy (who won the Oscar for his role), this movie won the Academy Award for Best Writing of Original Story.
But did he win the war?
My reaction to this story shook my inner soul. It took me back to those years of caring for my aging mother.
Families need to help each other
Caregiving should be held in high regard
A dear friend of mine was complaining one day about caring for her aging mother. She vented about having to take her ailing mom to therapy twice a week. She wished she could just go back to work. Her friends also chimed in, they would take their mom anywhere to not have to work.
Others replied, welcome to my world. It may have been a venting session, but for me it was deeply upsetting.
I wish I could take my mom to therapy. I would do anything to be able to do that again. The comments made by her friends stirred up many emotions.
I was trying not to judge them, because the battles I faced were mine alone.
A right way to Care
Caring for an aging parent is difficult. As my mother’s strokes became more pronounced, her dementia became stronger. When a parent can no longer care for themselves due to whatever reason, choices have to be considered. I tried to care for mom in my home.
After the strokes, she was unable to care for herself and she needed help getting around. Driving her to an adult day care each morning when I went to work because she couldn’t be home alone.
Moving a parent into a nursing home or an assisted living facility is not an easy choice but I did my homework.
Checking out each facility before reaching any decision, I took mom with me. She had to check them out as well.
If she felt uncomfortable, we discussed it and looked elsewhere.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities live under strict government regulations. While many are short staffed, the needs of the elderly become unmet.
With the rising cost of health-care and a demand for stricter laws, seniors get left out. It is our responsibility as the grown child to care for our aging parents. If we are unable to provide home health care, we are responsible to be their advocate.
When my mom was sent to the hospital, I went too. I talked to the doctors, the nurses, the caregivers. I kept a watchful eye. I heard the stories of elder abuse; this was not going to happen to my mother. I became her spokesperson, her guardian, her trusted friend, and I was not afraid. I did what any loving daughter would do. I cannot say it was easy.
There were many difficult days, struggles I faced and guilt over choices I made, but I knew my mom. I listened to her. I understood her. I never wanted her to feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Parents don’t want to be looked after. They want the responsibility to care for themselves. They don’t want to see their children suffer and many times they will not ask for help. Sometimes they will refuse help, thinking they can do it alone.
Who is responsible?
Our society is rich with the amount of help that is available. The health-care industry has a lot of work to do.
By increasing the accountability and responsibilities of the industry to provide additional training and support for caregivers who look after our aging parents, maybe some of this abuse can be eradicated.
There are many laws already in place, maybe these laws need to be stricter in governing these establishments.
Lawyers settle lawsuits, hospitals are cautious, and nursing homes have strict guidelines, but who takes responsibility?
Preventing elder abuse has to be a joint effort between adult children, government agencies, and local housing or care facilities.
This must stop now.
We need to make a difference in the lives of seniors. The ones who fought for our country, the ones who gave us life, the ones who should be deeply respected, they need support, and their voices need to be heard.
Knowing my mom, I knew when something was true or when something was a story she made up. She didn’t create stories to tell falsehoods, she told stories her brain was recalling from past experiences. Dementia can do that to a person but that does not give consent to abuse.
We talk about the problems, but do we offer solutions?
I don’t have all the answers. All I know is what I did to protect my mom.
And I knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I look down at my hands; I’m reminded of my mother.
My hands look like hers.
She is gone now and my heart weeps.
Additional Resources on Elder Care
National Center on Elder Abuse by the US Administration on Aging
A Place for Mom is one of the nation’s largest elder referral services that offer free advice. I found them most helpful during my research.
Statewide Departments on Aging can also be a tremendous resource in finding information as well as in reporting elder abuse. The regulations and the guidelines which must be followed by Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes are explained and illustrated on these sites.
The Wikipedia Story on Mickey Rooney: On February 16, 2011, Rooney was granted a temporary restraining order against Christopher Aber, 52, Rooney's stepson. Aber is the son of Rooney's eighth wife, Jan Chamberlin.On March 2, 2011 Rooney appeared before a special U.S. Senate committee that was considering legislation to curb senior abuse. Rooney stated that he was financially abused by an unnamed family member.
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