Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Dirty Little Family Secret

The mere thought of somebody ignoring or yelling at our aging mothers, fathers or grandparents is enough to make the majority of us feel sick to our stomachs.

While most of us revere the eldest members of our families, a sad few use them as punching bags, while still others verbally take out their frustrations on the weakest branch of the family tree.More often than not, elder abuse assumes a more insidious place in the family: aging family members become a nuisance, invisible, their need for conversation, adequate nutrition and medical attention often blatantly ignored.

Still, many other abused seniors, an estimated one in 10, remain hidden, the skeletons in the family closets, with few, if any, options available to them.

Tragically, elder abuse has been treated in much the same manner as child or spouse abuse, a dirty little family secret nobody’s allowed to talk about or address.

Somehow, the victims are made to feel guilty and ashamed, as if the abuse they’ve suffered is the result of something they’ve done, or done wrong.Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just as no child ‘deserves’ a beating and no woman ‘deserves’ to be treated like chattel, no senior citizen deserves to be neglected, abused or made to feel like a burden.

Armed with a lifetime of knowledge and experience, seniors have earned the right to expect respect and support from their families and their community.

Edited for E.A. >>

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