Stop Elder Abuse

September 27, 2007 at 9:50 pm (Blogging against abuse)

Due to my recent constant care of my grandfather, I have spent many days, hours, weeks, in nursing homes, hospitals, in the company of aides, doctors, and nurses. Many thoughts have come to mind. As a young, strong, aware individual, you often have the independence, awareness and physical strength to avoid, fight or just be aware when you being mistreated. Even if you choose not to fight back, you could. One of the most deplorable features of abuse is that cowardly individuals who inherently feel inadequate, gain power and strength from lording over easy targets (i.e., children, subordinates, elderly, animals). In the case of the elderly, those who have either been abused, or for whatever reason, have evil within and a need to belittle those in need, choose to verbally or physically maltreat someone of advanced age.

If you step into a nursing home, you will see elderly men and women of all levels of health. There are individuals of fine physical shape, with failing mental facilities and those with a sharp mind and a failing physique. Some have neither their mind or bodies intact. I witnessed many kind, warm souls working in these environs, who clearly had their heart in their job. And I have also seen those who were less gentle. I am also aware that abuse is often done behind closed doors. Fortunately, my grandfather often was aware and reported when he was treated well and less so. In one particular incident on a hospital ward, he described a young female aide who was particularly rough with him, and even told him to “shut up” loudly. We were horrified, and sought to find out who this was, in order to prevent further actions like this towards my grandfather and others.
So, what I’d like to state is that it is everyone’s role to care for those without a voice. Not only because you may one day be weakened and vulnerable and may be at risk, but because you are not weak. You can see, hear and walk and talk and because of this, it is your role to speak up. Words and actions do immense good. Perhaps you aren’t organizing a march on the nation’s capital, but you make a anonymous phone call to the head of the hospital, reporting bad behavior. Or you witness an elderly man struggling with a door. Go and help. You will be glad you did and you will have added a bit of joy to their day. And if you see abuse of any kind towards an elderly person, stand up and fight back. Often the aggression and cruelty is a scary exterior hiding a weak coward inside. And, if you have grandparents in a nursing facility, take care to protect them and care for them. There is no other choice.

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