Elder abuse has reached “unprecedented levels” during the coronavirus pandemic
I’ve found I’m one of those people that must see or experience things firsthand in order to truly understand its impact on others. It’s not something I’m proud of – it’s just the way I’m wired. I never truly comprehended child abuse until I adopted an abused child. I never felt the plight of African Americans until videos emerged on the Internet and racists began climbing out of the woodwork and making their presence openly known. And I never truly perceived the sadness of elder abuse until I saw a in-home worker verbally abusing our elderly mother on a remote camera feed. Elder abuse occurs right under our noses and the situation is especially dire today.
A new study has revealed that the abuse of older people has reached an “unprecedented level” during the Coronavirus pandemic. The isolation brought about by the pandemic acts like a pressure cooker when older people are locked down with their abusers or isolated without care. Caretakers may take out their frustrations on the elderly and with lockdown measures in place, the elderly have no means to cry for help.
One researcher from the study told reporters:
“Our polling shows that while people know that abuse of older people is a problem, there’s a complete disconnect between awareness of the issue and a true understanding of the role we all play in preventing abuse.”
How do we recognize elder abuse?
Check in on your elderly family members and make sure you listen to what they say. Ask about their challenges and listen carefully to how they respond. The elderly are often afraid or ashamed to report abuse. You may have to infer what they are trying to tell you.
Look for the signs of elder abuse. Observe how workers or family members speak to the older person. Even if they do not outwardly verbally abuse the elder person, disrespectful talk is a warning sign. If a caretaker disrespects the elderly person when you are present, you should be wary of how they treat the elderly person when nobody else is around.
Notice if a caretaker or family member tries to keep the elder person isolated, going out of their way to ensure the elderly person is never left alone with others. Give the caretaker an opportunity to leave the room – offer to watch the elderly person so the caretaker does not have to. Then notice how they react to your offer.
Pay attention to the elder person’s behavior. Did they suddenly stop taking part in activities that they once enjoyed? Have they suddenly lost weight for no reason? Are they withdrawn? Do they display signs of emotional trauma? All of these are signs that an elderly person is emotionally wrought.
How does the elder person appear? Do they appear messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes? Do they have unexplained bruises, burns, or cuts? Are there signs of physical punishment? Have their glasses or jewelry been broken?
How we can battle elder abuse
There are many ways we can battle elder abuse. First, we must of course, pray for their safety. Per our religious doctrine, this is the first and most important step. Pray for both the abused and despite any anger or animosity, pray for the abuser too.
Finally, we can and should break coronavirus lockdown rules when we know someone is suffering from abuse. Elder abuse will not stop on its own. Someone must step in and rescue the elder person. In instances of elder abuse, isolation rules go out the window.