Monday, November 12, 2012

Elder abuse - truth or myth?

This Elder Abuse poll is really difficult to respond to. Can we rely on polls for data? No. Especially ones formulated on-line, by a lobby group (CARP). It lacks reliability and validity, keys to controlling good data.

As a volunteer, caregiver, and paid respite worker, it insults the intelligence of seniors. 
For the one case of which I have direct knowledge it is not abuse, it is financial harassment. Seniors don't want abuse reported.

Some seniors report emotional neglect. For example, my friend's mother reported to family members that she simply did not visit them or help them out. Her mother has vascular dementia, her father Alzheimer's dementia. She was going to their home for 6 hours every day, seven days a week. On the phone she would sound normally-functioning, and in a phone poll would claim her daughter neglects her. 

We spend millions on Elder Abuse initiatives
The client I had, whose son kept phoning for money, was on ODSP. Her disability would be cut off if she sent him money. I counselled her on this subject, taught her verbal responses, e.g., broken record, "I don't have enough money to send you any." but she chose to ignore me. She was unable to fight for herself, or more willing to get attention for complaining about her money issues.

She would harass me and phone me three times one day asking I buy an old coat of her son's in order for her to be able to send him some money. She has schizophrenia, but the courts would not help her. This is a cry for attention.

The solution is to educate and better train front line staff: from physicians, to nurses, PSWs, social workers, but we have to keep in mind the mental health of those who protest.
We've got to get off this bandwagon. It is not abuse, it is fraud and ought to be prosecuted this way. For those whose money is being taken away, the numbers are much smaller than the media portrays. I've had a 100 clients and only the one whose son kept phoning for money. It is rare.


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