Verbal and Physical Abuse
Verbal abuse is often subtle. In today’s world, we don’t tolerate slurs whether directed at race, religion or children. Somehow society appears to tolerate such sentiment toward the over-60 generation. Terms such as “the olds”, “dithering old man” are put-downs. These expressions may not be intentional. However, they are a form of verbal abuse.
We know that young people may say such things in jest and don’t view this as abuse, but the fact that we hear such phrases indicates a lack of respect towards that older individual.
The more visible form of ill-treatment is physical assault. The elderly are much more susceptible to physical threats. As we age, we become weaker; our reflexes are slower, and we are more prone to intimidation. When the elderly are victims of home invasions with the ensuing physical threats, they can be severely scarred both physically and mentally. Here women are at greater risk.
Surprisingly, another form of abuse is sexual assault. In a published 2014 study by Dr. Catherine Barrett, titled Norma’s Project, she stated that in Australia there were as many as 2000 instances of some form of sexual transgression against elderly women. These took place in aged care and nursing home facilities. Often these assaults are perpetrated by carers. We should be shocked by these figures because the same way that children can be abused sexually because of their vulnerability, the same is true for the elderly.
- If it concerns you, point out that you don’t appreciate put-down words.
- Protect your home with alarm systems, security screens, double locked windows and wood dowelling.
- Dogs are excellent for home security.
- The children of elderly parents who are in aged care facilities need to look out for sudden change in behavior.
- Take note of any signs such as bruising that could indicate abuse.
Several issues lead to negative results from medication in older people.
What is presumed to be beneficial for the young may not be so for the elderly. For example, lowering blood pressure in those with heart disease may be helpful in the long term, however, with older people who have poor balance and muscular weakness, low blood pressure often results in falls which can be life threatening or crippling.
Older people tend to have multiple health issues and may have several specialists, each caring for a particular issue. Each doctor writes prescriptions for their identified problem with minimal awareness of other problems and treatments. The result is Polypharmacy––the use of multiple medications. These drugs can have adverse actions. The person who is swallowing all these drugs can feel dreadful with a reduced quality of life. This leads to depression and yet more medication.
Polypharmacy is of particular concern for those who are unable to communicate, either because of dementia or loss of effective speech. Sometimes the multiple drugs contribute to the poor mental state.
Take Mary, an 80-year-old, who was discharged from hospital on ten medications. She was confused, had difficulty communicating, and was wheel chair bound. The specialists did not know what was causing her problems. When she got home, her General Practitioner gradually took her off most of her medication. Within six weeks she was communicating clearly, walking on her own and enjoying life for another eight quality years at home.
Some medications, such as those for anxiety, e.g.benzodiazepines (Valium and others), and sleeping tablets can result in grogginess and confusion which results in falls leading to broken bones and head injuries.
Many families and patients themselves are reluctant to agree to reduce their elderly relative’s medications as they believe that the specialist knows best. This is not always true.
- Patients and families need to question all treatment.
- Ask about risks and benefits of all medications
- If in doubt, seek a second medical opinion.
- Chiropractic care can be quite beneficial to the over 60’s and can reduce the need for some medications.
Scams and Coercion
We hear many stories of older folk receiving phone calls asking for money to unlock some computer software or purporting to be from a bank, requiring their bank details. Of course, we have the online scammers who prey on the over 60’s who are financially strapped, offering them a big lotto win. It’s surprising how many people fall into this trap.
There are also too many instances of older women and men who are desperate for a new partner and seek one online. In the process of hooking up with the new person, they start handing over money to the new “love of their life”. They find out––sometimes after thousands of dollars spent––that the person is an illusion which has disappeared. Of course, meeting online acquaintances in person has the potential for serious physical risks.
Another scam targeting the elderly is someone claiming to be a solicitor in another country and telling the person that their grandchild has been arrested. They claim to be seeking bail from the grandparent to release their grandchild. This invariably ends in money disappearing in the online world.
Seniors are very susceptible to coercion. They may be ill or mentally impaired, and a friend or another family member may convince them to part with their money in a “responsible” fashion. This happened to a friend of ours, who recently was persuaded by new-found friends to change her will from a charitable foundation to these new acquaintances.
- Never give out bank account or credit card details to an unknown source.
- Check with other family members if another member is requesting money while overseas.
- Have in place an Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship before you reach a state of dementia.
- If you have met someone through an online dating service, meet in a neutral and public place and let others know about it.
- If in doubt, don’t do it.
- We have offered some basic solutions to reduce the risk of abuse. However, nothing is full proof. We can only minimize the potential to the best degree possible. Seek the assistance of a health professional, family member or friend who you totally trust.
We have offered some basic solutions to reduce the risk of abuse. However, nothing is full proof. We can only minimize the potential to the best degree possible. Seek the assistance of a health professional, family member or friend who you totally trust.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor, and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.
“Adele and Ely have always impressed me with their exceptional knowledge, professionalism and positive attitude. Mention their name and the one word that always comes up is respect.” – John Ross, Master Networker