Abuse of elders should be exposed and stopped

Speak your mind by Dr Guru Kistnasamy

Many elderly parents are neglected and subjected to abuse by their children, grandchildren and care-givers. Sadly, because of their deteriorating mental and physical health, the elderly are unable to stop the abuse. In many cases the old folk are dependent on the family members for mobility, food, clothes and medical needs. Thus they are trapped in silent suffering.

Many elders complain that they have to take care of the grandchildren daily with no social life of their own. Others are made to run errands, do shopping, cook, and even take care of the dogs.

Different types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse refers to the use of physical force that results in injury caused by slapping, punching, bruising, pushing and restraining.
  • Neglect is the failure by family members or the care-givers to provide food, shelter, medicines or protection.
  • Emotional abuse refers to intimidation through yelling and threats, humiliation and ridicule, ignoring, isolating an elder from other family members and friends, blaming and threatening.
  • Financial abuse includes stealing cash from the elder, stealing personal possessions or groceries, forging the elder’s signature to withdraw money, fraudulent use of the elder’s credit card or cheques. Elders may be forced by their children or grandchildren to take a loan using their property as collateral, or to change their will to make the enforcer the beneficiary.

How you can protect yourself as an elder:

  • Be familiar with the use of the phones and keep emergency numbers nearby.
  • Keep in touch by visiting or phoning friends and family members that you can trust.
  • Make a will and entrust it with your bank, broker or attorney. Be familiar with all your financial and legal matters. Inspect them regularly to ensure nobody is stealing from you.
  • Talk to your doctor, police or the social worker if you feel that you are being abused in any way.
  • Join a senior citizens group to empower yourself. They usually arrange talks by different professionals, arrange social outings, and create a platform where you can confide in someone who understands.

As an elder, you deserve love, respect and protection. Speak up when your rights are being infringed. Do not suffer in silence.

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