The issues in our society that are particularly grievous are the ones that many don’t believe are occurring or can’t see. Elder abuse falls squarely into this category. Ageism and inequality is huge issue across the world but it is rarely acknowledge or identified. A move in the right direction was the commencement of Elder Abuse Awareness day which is commemorated every year on the 15th of June. Yet following a petition by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) to the United Nations, it took five years for the day to be officially recognised. While elder abuse may be happening behind closed doors and out of plain view, this is all the more reason to rally around some of the world’s and Australia’s most vulnerable humans.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is classified as any act that brings about harm to an older person, carried out by someone they trust and know. This can be a family member or a friend. The abuse can come through in different forms, from physical, financial and psychological to social and sexual. Abuse may also include mistreatment and neglect.
While abuse is abhorrent regardless of age, race and background, elder abuse is a particularly difficult issue to combat due to the inability of many suffering to speak out and get help. Many elderly persons have their lives controlled, physically, financially and emotionally by those around them from children and even family friends. Elderly persons are far less likely to be able to use technology and social media to alert anyone to their crisis and thus are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
How Prevalent Is It?
According to the World Health Organisation, rates of elder abuse range from 1 to 10% in developing countries. That is a sizable and significant amount and while it is unlikely that an exact figure will ever be settled upon the social and moral impetus to act upon this issue is paramount.
While a day to commemorate and acknowledge the pain and exploitation that many elderly persons have had to battle is a start there is a long way to go.
Making A Change
Acknowledging And Honouring Our Seniors
Psychologists say that one of the strongest starting steps to instilling respect and dignity for any person is to acknowledge their value, worth and humanhood. Get to know the seniors in your lives, encourage your children and grandchildren to explore their loved ones past, to sit and listen to their stories. Through quality time getting to know the depth of that senior person great bonds of respect, love and value are built up. It is to instill the fact of humanhood and value of our seniors in the young that is the start of real and sustained change.
Looking To Seniors For Wisdom
Seniors have lived longer than many of us. They have experienced rapid and breathtaking change in society, technology, lifestyle and country. Approach them for advice and guidance. Their gateway to the past is of inexplicable value and won’t be accessible forever. Through seeking their wisdom, we as a society will not only be able to grown and learn from the past we will be sending a message of senior value and importance.
Keep Your Ear To The Ground
Whether you work in aged care, have a relative in aged care or come into contact with seniors be on the lookout for their wellbeing. Take note in any great changes in mood, behaviour, appetite and general demeanour. If you see something, say something.
Encourage Second Opinions
If you or someone you know if put in charge of a seniors money, life decisions and assets, encourage them and yourself to have other eyeballs weigh in on the decisions. Make sure that the way you conduct yourself or how you encourage others to conduct is with transparency, patience, reason and compassion. And importantly, if your loved one is able, put them front and center in all the discussions and final outcomes.
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