Wednesday, 18 June 2014


Despicable, Unfathomable... is it really going on?

I have to admit, not only was I not aware that June 15th was the official World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (naughty Dollie), but I actually didn't realise such a thing even existed.

Until I walked into the Meals on Wheels depot today, was presented with a purple ribbon to pin onto my fluro 'Hi-Viz' vest (see photo) and got directed to a row of purple posters dotted about the place containing all the info I needed to 'learn up, in case a client asks you about it'.  

What's really a shame, is how sad it is that the United Nations knows there is a need to have an internationally recognised elder abuse day of awareness.  Although I suppose as with any type of Abuse Awareness kind of day, by it's very nature it could never be an occasion to get excited about.

Purple ribbon against Elder Abuse
Purple ribbon for WEAAD week

And did you know... that around 6% of all people over age 60 will cop some form of abuse in their lives?  If you add that up, that's about 60 million people world wide (so the purple poster tells us) which sounds like a hugely horrendous amount of older people having dreadful things done to them to me.

AND... According to said purple poster, by 2050 the number of elderly people over age 65 in Australia will have doubled - which means elder abuse will escalate by this much too.

Surely not?

AND... Were you also aware that elder abuse doesn't just mean the obvious physical attacks on little old granny. Sadly, people mistreat their older family members in emotional and psychological ways too, not to mention another biggie: financial exploitation.

Suffering Alzheimer's or Dementia, can mean clients are easy prey to a so-called 'caregiver' because of the ever-decreasing capacity to understand and control one's own personal affairs, bank accounts etc. Therefore, to enable an elder to stay at home, the need to rely on others becomes more demanding and sometimes proves too tempting for close family members to resist. Horrific to think that a son or daughter, niece or nephew could sink so low as to take advantage of their dearly beloved.

Neglect is another form of abuse that is also hidden within families and can be very difficult to detect, but they're all a violation of basic Human Rights and quite frankly, bloody disgraceful!

As visiting Home & Community carers, there are warning signs the purple poster tells us we should watch out for in our client's behaviour... as well as any related physical concerns (heaven forbid) we may observe and then report.

Things such as:
  • Bruises, burns or other new marks on the skin
  • Changes in physical appearance: weight loss, lethargy, weakness
  • Unexplained behaviour such as fear or forgetfulness
  • Being unusually quiet or withdrawn, or if they appear more socially isolated from family or friends than is usual

My experience with 'abused' elderly is fairly limited I have to say and I haven't conciously encountered anything untoward on my daily travels visiting cients in their homes.

Or perhaps I just haven't noticed?

It worries me now, that after all this time in the industry I could be oblivious to such things.  Perhaps it's been happening right under my nose for years and the bruises I noticed on the lovely Mrs Wilma Wotsit's arm one day during a shower assistance shift, were actually from being 'put in her place' by her despicable son with the drinking problem...

Or perhaps the time poor old Mr Theo Thingamebob told me he'd broken his nose by falling flat on his face (sadly, this is actually not uncommon) after tripping on his crappy kitchen lino, could in actual fact been a nasty thrashing from an angry nephew with money issues and a serious uncontrolled mental disorder.  You just don't want to even think about it!

It appears sadly though, that we have to.

Now I really think about it, I do remember once...a client with slow-onset Dementia, still capable of living at home (just) whose dazzling glass china cabinets I'd observed, had become depleted of their expensive-looking contents over a period of several months.  It eventuated that her three beloved sons had started 'borrowing' stuff from their mother before she'd even admitted defeat, sold up and moved into the Nursing Home!


Apparently there was an attempt at a police inquiry but it all fell flat due to their mother's health and failing memory. And so the issue was somehow swept into the  'looking after mum's assets' basket and everyone just carried on.

Purple Ribbon supports Elderly Rights
Elderly abuse 
- hard to comprehend

Anyhoo, back to today's excursion...

I can report that nobody noticed the pretty purple WEAAD ribbon I wore during my Meals on Wheels delivery run this morning.  Or if they did, they didn't feel inclined to say anything to me about it.  I, too, didn't feel the need (or have the time) to start prattling on and drawing attention to the topic.  Not because I didn't want to talk about it... perhaps it's more because I'm still in denial (shock?) that anybody could sink so low as to take advantage of an innocent frail and vulnerable older person in such a cruel and unfathomable way.

Similar to abuse of children really. These slimy cowards should go pick on someone their own goddam size and then see how they like it when the favour is returned.  Grrrr, hard not to get cross about it really.

Maybe that's the problem - we are all too busy NOT talking about it... you know?
Anyway, not a very jolly note to end on I'm afraid.

We can blame the purple posters for that.




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