As you take your morning walk, or greet a neighbor at the mailbox, take the time to say hello. Stop and take the time to chat. Let them know you are a neighbor and if they ever need a hand please ask for help. We all grow older and become more fragile. Perhaps they have lost a spouse or are empty nesters. Or, adult children have moved home with mom to get through this tough economy.
This is just a reminder to everyone to watch out for our older neighbors. Not only just against the obvious scammers who would try to sell them something they do not need. There are scammers out there targeting seniors. But elder abuse is happening here in Orange County.
You can help. First take time to wave, stop and say hello. Invite them to lunch, local event, or just stop for a chat.
Too many elders are embarrassed by their situation. They feel helpless. Seniors fear being alone and often have had adult children, relatives, or live-in caregivers who have come to stay with them. Sometimes this “help”, is worse than being alone. Suddenly they find themselves being controlled.
What starts out as a helping hand to seniors, who can use a hand, and young adults who have moved home due to the economy, can slowly turn into a bad situation for some seniors.
Suddenly an adult child needs to barrow a car. Or, a dog would be the perfect thing. They take over a once cherished home. Seniors do not want to admit that their lives have become chaotic. They feel controlled. Is it control, or do they need supervision? Money is an issue.
Things to watch out for, in your senior neighbors; broken bones and bruises. cancelled get together, and sadness. This can happen to anyone. But, if it happens often, it could be more than just a careless fall. Seniors do not want to admit that they are being controlled. Controlled by someone they love. This could be a husband, adult children, or caregivers living with a senior.
In this economic environment many families are supporting their adult children or grandchildren. Elder abuse takes place right under our nose.
Elder abuse takes place where a senior lives: most often in the home where abusers are often adult children, other family members such as grandchildren, or spouses/partners of elders.
An elderly neighbor you’ve chatted with at church and block parties for years is tearful as she gets the mail. These are signs that something is not right. She says hello but seems wary, as if she doesn’t quite recognize you. You ask her about a nasty bruise on her forearm. Oh, just an accident, she explains; the car door closed on it. She says goodbye quickly and returns to the house. Something isn’t quite right about her. You think about the bruise, her skittish behavior. Well, she’s getting pretty old, you think; maybe her mind is getting fuzzy. But there’s something else — something isn’t right.
There are different types of abuse. In emotional abuse, people speak to or treat elderly persons in ways that cause emotional pain or distress. Seniors are intimidated through yelling or threats. Ignoring the elderly person’s wishes in their own home is abuse. Isolating them from neighbors and friends is also abuse. Blaming, ridiculing. “You don’t make the money we do”, is demeaning. Yet these young adults may live in a senior’s home.
We are all busy in our day to day errands and business. But, if we all took a few minutes to stop, and say hello we could make a difference. Just those few minutes, could make a difference that saves a life, or keeps a neighbor out of a nursing home. Keep in touch with your neighbors.