Thursday, July 5, 2007

Stop the Abuse of the Elderly

In the middle of June a major report into the extent of the abuse facing older people in the UK was published, to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

The study was commissioned by the Department of Health and Comic Relief, following representations by Action on Elder Abuse.

And - despite not covering institutions or people with dementia - it has provided frightening conclusions that should make us all sit up and take notice.

At least 342,000 older people face such abuse.

That's greater than the populations of Leicester, Cardiff, Aberdeen or Belfast. We have the equivalent of cities of old people being neglected, assaulted, coerced, bullied and defrauded or stolen from. And it's their partners, sons, daughters, and care workers who are doing this to them.

It's a sobering and solemn future for those of us not yet old, and a fearful reality for too many of those who should be enjoying their twilight years.

It is about how we view and treat those who have become old in our society, and we should all be very, very ashamed of what it tells us.

So what are we going to do about it? The truth is that we have stopped seeing our older people as a positive resource, and instead view them as a time bomb waiting to explode in our faces.
In some circumstances this is about the funding we provide to care and health services and protective services.

In some circumstances this is about being a damn sight more robust in dismissing care staff and, when warranted, sending them to prison - and that includes some of the sons and daughters who so casually steal from their parents.

Sixty years ago, men and women fought in boats, planes and on the ground.
They huddled in Anderson shelters and tube stations. They accepted rationing and the day to day fear of death. They had it rough and they died in their thousands. All to give us the life and the society that we so readily now take for granted.

The survivors of that war are the 342,000 we are abusing.
So, please join my charity now and let's do something about it.

Chief Executive.
Action on Elder Abuse

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