Although it might be easier in small towns, these days it is harder to stay involved and connected to our communities as we age. As a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation - which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect is a concern world-wide and can affect older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races. And to raise the awareness of elder abuse throughout the world, June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Okay, but what actually is elder abuse? It refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person - and can be exhibited in many ways: neglect or isolation; physical abuse; financial abuse and exploitation; and emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats).
Fortunately, there are warning signs.
For neglect a lack of basic hygiene, adequate food, or clean and appropriate clothing; home cluttered and filthy, or without adequate appliances; or a person with dementia left unsupervised.
For financial abuse or exploitation, a lack of conveniences the victim could afford; “voluntarily” giving excessive financial reimbursement/gifts to the caregiver; caregiver has control of elder’s money but is failing to provide for elder’s needs; or the vulnerable adult has signed documents such as a Power of Attorney or a new Will without understanding what it means.
For psychological or emotional abuse look for unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior; caregiver doesn’t let anyone in the home; or the caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring
And for physical abuse look for inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores or burns.
Some older adults are more susceptible to experiencing abuse or neglect than others. They include adults eighty and older and older adults who experence dementia, poor physical health, mental health or substance abuse issues and isolation.
But you can do something about Elder Abuse. Actually, you already have - because if you have read this far you know the signs of abuse. Now the next step is to share this information with your friends, so instances of abuse are better reported to protect older adults.
You can also stay in contact with your older neighbors, as I know many of you have, and listen. If you suspect any abuse, you can report your suspicions to the Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) office in The Dalles at 541-298-4114.
By spreading the word and making sure national and community resources are directed to providing the necessary supports for older adults and reducing the isolation many older adults face, we can help prevent elder abuse from happening. It’s a matter of justice for all.
The Center’s next two trips are coming up. On June 20th there is a trip to the Portland Grotto with a limit of 12 persons and a cost of $30. And then on Wednesday, July 11th a trip to the Oregon Zoo in Portland is scheduled with a limit of 23 and a cost of $46. There is still room, but make sure you are signed up and paid to reserve your seat on the bus.
The name of the historical drama which was the top grossing film of 1963, won four Academy Awards and was renowned for the extramarital affair between its two costars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, was Cleopatra. (I received correct answers from Jim Ayers, Lana Tepfer, Dave Lutgens, Sandy Haechrel and Don Hansen - this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.)
Lana Tepfer reminded me how the Taylor/Burton affair was such a big deal back in THOSE days which reminded me of how the public’s perception of a political candidate’s character has also changed.
For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the four term New York governor who during his second term as governor married a New York socialite soon after they both were divorced which raised such a political firestorm it cost him the Republican presidential nomination in 1964? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send a picture of Happy, his second wife, with their first child.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing. Until we meet again, take a chance, and open the door. You never know what’s on the other side.
“Lonely is not a feeling when you are alone. Lonely is a feeling when no one cares.” Unknown