Abuse of Seniors
A few years back I was hospitalized for a surgical procedure. My roommate was an 84-year-old woman who was always cheery and did not appear sick. During my recuperation, she would get my tray from the food cart when it arrived on the ward, and in the afternoon she would bring me a cup of tea. After meals, she helped the nurses by picking up the trays from nearby rooms. Everyone, patients and staff, liked her.
When I inquired about her health she would only say she was under observation, so I asked one of the nurses. I was told that the lady had come into the hospital months earlier for a gynecological problem which was dealt with. Why was she still in hospital?
The nurse explained that before the woman was admitted, her only son had obtained a power of attorney “in case”. Then, while his mother was undergoing treatment, he absconded with her money without leaving a forwarding address. Hospital officials had put the woman on a waiting list for a senior residence she could afford on her pension, and in the meantime she remained in hospital. For the nurse who recounted the story, this was a disturbing trend.
The nurse also told me that on Mother’s Day the woman had asked if any mail had come for her. All she wanted was a word from her son, to know that he was all right. When I returned to the hospital a few weeks after my discharge, I learned that the lady had died. My nurse was convinced that she had willed her own death.
Many boomers face the reality of caring for aging parents and would never consider abandoning or otherwise mistreat them, but the statistics are there and are food for thought. If only one person in our society is being abused physically, financially, psychologically, I believe it’s everyone’s problem.
Senior abuse is happening today in the best of families. We cannot close our eyes to this ignominy. We must speak out, report it and make it an important issue for everyone living in our town, in our neighborhood. If we fail to do so, we become the silent conspirators of those who prey on the vulnerable.