Abuse happens when an abuser feels they are in a place of power, and they use that power in a way that harms the recipient. Children and pets are abused because they are weaker, or can’t speak for themselves – they are at the mercy of their abusers. The same applies to older people; abuse happens when the older adult is in a place of weakness or vulnerability or dependency.
Rarely, abuse happens because the abuser is overstressed. Parents can remember a time when their children drove them to a place they recognized was dangerously near an abusive reaction. This can happen when caregivers of older adults reach that same frustration level. This is understandable; however, when caregivers reach that threshold, they must seek help (Mobile Crisis Services, 1-888-568-1112).
There is no excuse:
When family members take money from an older person that does not belong to them;
When family members refuse to have a parent go to a nursing home, because they don’t want to lose that parent’s income;
When people use abusive, derogatory terms for older adults; when they teach their kids to laugh at old people and make fun of their limitations;
Just three examples of elder abuse. To stop the abuse, we (you and I) must speak up. We must name it for what it is, and report abusers to the authorities (Adult Protective Services 1-800-624-8404 or call 911). We cannot look the other way. Society only changes when each and every one of us stands up to bullies and abusers.