Thursday, 15 June 2017

Happy WEAAD-Day, To You!

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

Here's the thing.

Not only was I not aware that June 15th was official World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - but to my shame,  I absolutely (ruly truuuly) had no idea it was even a thing.   

Which considering I have been employed in the aged-are industry for many years now - is quite dreadful really.  I mean, what was I doing on WEAAD day last year?

So as I waltzed into work this morning, it was a surprise to me when I was duly presented with a purple ribbon to pin most purposefully onto my shirt front.  I was then directed to a row of purple posters dotted about on the walls which, as well as ordering me to END ELDER ABUSE - also contained info I might need to "learn up, in case a client asks you about it".  

Still slightly in surprise mode, I then pondered how it really is a sad state of affairs when the United Nations has to officially acknowledge that we now actually need an internationally recognised day of awareness for Elder Abuse.  

Purple ribbon against Elder Abuse
Get your PURPLE on!

And so I perused the purple posters to get the stats.

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 (according to the purple poster) which to me, sounds like a hugely horrendous amount of older people having a bloody bad time with dreadful things being done to them.

AND... (according to said purple poster), that by 2050 the number of elderly people over age 65 in Australia will have doubled - which means elder abuse will escalate by twice as much also. 

Doubled?  Surely not!

AND... Were you also aware that elder abuse doesn't just mean the obvious physical attacks on dear little old granny.  Ah no!

People can badly mistreat older family members in emotional and psychological ways too.  Not to mention another biggie (and also the theme of this year's WEAAD day): Financial Exploitation.

Typical health issues related to ageing such as Alzheimer's or Dementia, can mean older adults are easy prey to a so-called 'caregiver' with alterior motives.  Thanks to cognitive decline and a decrease in capacity to understand or control one's own personal affairs, bank accounts, insurance papers etc, the need to rely on others becomes more demanding.

Unfortunately, so too, is  the increase in tempatation for family members to craftily 'adjust' offiicial documents for self-serving purposes.

Horrific to think that a trusted son, daughter, grandchild or step-nephew-twice-removed could sink so low as to take such blatant advantage of a frail older loved one.

Neglect is another form of abuse that's also hidden within families and can be ultra tricky to detect because victims are loathe to report mistreatment due to shame or embarrassment.  But these forms of abuse are all a violation of basic Human Rights and quite frankly, bloody disgraceful!

As carers visiting clients in their own homes, there are warning signs the purple poster tells us we should watch out for in our clients and their behaviours... as well as any related physical concerns (heaven forbid) we may observe.

Things such as:
  • Bruises, burns or other new marks on the skin
  • Changes in general physical appearance: weight loss, lethargy, weakness
  • Unexplained actions such as clumsiness or forgetfulness
  • Being unusually quiet or withdrawn, or appearing more socially isolated from family or friends than usual
  • Depression, confusion or fear of being alone with a certain family member 

My experience with 'abused' elderly peeps is fairly limited I have to say.  I haven't knowingly encountered anything untoward on my daily travels where I have had cause for concern for my client's welfare.

Or have I just not noticed it? 

It worries me now, even after all this time that I could be oblivious to the various forms of elder abuse. Perhaps there's been awful things happening to my clients right under my nose?

The bruises I noticed on the lovely Mrs Wotsit's arm during her shower last week...Were they the result of being 'put in her place' by her son with anger management issues and a nasty drinking problem?

Or the time poor old Mr Thingamebob tells me he's a silly duffer after falling flat on his face from tripping on the kitchen lino... Had he been beaten by a nephew of dubious origins wanting money (and the car) in a hurry?

Or hearing Mrs Saynomore tell me that she intended to stay in her house forever and that "they'll have to take me out in a box"...  Yet discovering her home advertised in the 'For Sale' column of the local paper thanks to an impatient grandson with a filthy gambling habit.


Although it appears now - we must.

Which reminds me of an incident once... visiting a client with slow-onset Dementia still living in the family home and whose dazzling glass china cabinets strangely became more and more depleted of their expensive contents over a period of several months.

Apparently there was an attempt at an inquiry when the neighbour caught on and made noises to the authorities.  But it all fell flat due to the woman's absentmindedness and failing memory.  Her three beloved sons 'borrowing' stuff from their mother somehow got classed as 'looking after mum's assets' instead.

And it all became null and void once the woman relocated into a nursing home. 


Abuse against older people

Get mad like Mickey! 

I can report that none of my clients noticed the pretty purple WEAAD ribbon I wore during my visits today.  Or if they did, they chose not to say anything about it.  

I, too, didn't feel the need (or have the time) to start prattling on and drawing attention to the  once taboo topic of Elder Abuse.  

Not because I didn't want to talk about it... perhaps it's more that I'm still in denial that anyone could sink so low as to take advantage of their innocent, frail and vulnerable rellies in such a cruel and heartless way.

Similar to abuse of children really. And we all know how we feel about THAT!

Maybe that's the problem right there.
Perhaps we are all too busy NOT talking about it... you know?

Pesky purple posters - it's all their fault.


Stop abuse on elders

Go pick on someone your own age!! 

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