Elder abuse is a global problem. It is difficult to know exactly how common elder abuse is, as most goes unreported. All types of elder abuse can happen in people’s own homes, when staying with others or while being in a range of community or residential facilities. So how can we better understand these types of situations and the people who act in this way?
Sadly , there are those who put their own interests above others. They might justify their behaviour to themselves, ‘I can do what I like in my own home’, it’s no-one else’s business’ that ‘they’d be in a rest home if it wasn’t for me’
Other times there may be a lack of awareness or disregard of the needs and rights of the older person and the process of ageing. For example: not understanding that ‘Poppa” needs help with taking his pills, eating or with his personal care; or that older people need some privacy too and their opportunity to get out and see their friends; or that it’s best to be up and dressed each day if that’s possible.
Whether you’r on the receiving end of such behaviour or you’re the person trapped in this behavior, we know it’s hard to ask for help. Thoughts running through your mind often prevent you taking action e.g. it will be shaming; it’ll upset the family; what will happen to me; who would believe it; maybe it’s not that bad; it’s all my fault; will I be sent away; will I see my family again; it might be better to stay quiet rather than risk upsetting everything etc.
Although you may feel stuck int he situation, a skilled and independent person will be able to help you ind your way through this.
So, what’s likely to happen if the situation is uncovered? Importantly, you need to know that every situation is unique; as will be the solution. But it is also important to realise that elder abuse if common and your experience has happened to others too.
If you are in this situation or know someone who is, you can ring the confidential 24 hour, free helpline. Freephone: 0800 32 668 65. Registered nurses will listen and advise anyone who needs information or support. If needed, callers will be referred to a local Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS).
If there is immediate danger call 111 for the police or ambulance.
When talking with an elder abuse worker you can discuss what’s going on, what’s important to you and what you would like to change and happen. These skilled and experienced workers know that for most people family/whanau are important. They will work with you, and family members where possible, so that you each get the help and support you needed. They will also help you dispel the wrong messages you may have been getting about your worth and your rights, so that you are better able to make a decisions you need to make for yourself and those you love.