Have you been taught elder abuse?
How to dis-honour them – silence them?
I have found since being a Senior & Speciality Move Manager, we are edumacating the next generations in elder abuse. You see as we throw our elders out like junk into nursing “homes”, steal under the disguise of Enduring Power of Attorney’s because it’s “inheritance entitlement” and finally silencing them because they are only decrepit, senile, and grumpy old fools who wet themselves.
The Western Australian Government defines elder abuse as per the World Health Organisation 2007 adopted definition that it is “..a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship, where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person” And as reported in the WA Strategy to Response to the Abuse of Elders 2019 – there is up to 49,000 older people who are experiencing or have experience, some form of elder abuse.
There was this one time when I was giving a talk at an independent living Aged Care Facility, on the subject of decluttering and aging well at home. When I was surprised to see in the audience a client who I had met, about 9 months early, to discuss her transition into a residential home, of which this facility was definitely not on her list of choices!
During the after-talk tea and cake session, I had the opportunity to ask Enid* how she was doing since moving in – her response disgusted me.
When I had met with Enid for our initial Map the Way consultation and subsequent personalised Journey Plan; which included our estimate to assist Enid with finding a suitable residential care facility of her choosing, within her financial capability, declutter and sustainably dispose of unwanted items with her guidance, undertake the packing, moving, unpacking and help Enid settle in – and to vacate clean and hand her home back to the property agents.
Enid was so grateful of that 90-minute chat, because she was able to express her desires and also her concerns. Although she was sorry her son wasn’t going to help her – Enid felt it was better if she did it herself so as “not to worry him or put him out!” From our discussions, I had the sense the son wasn’t up for doing much for her anyway.
Sometime after our meeting, Enid called to say, “my son is going to help me, as he doesn’t want me spending all that money!” Her voice cracked with sadness about the situation, however, I acknowledged her wishes and reminded Enid that should she ever need me – I would be there for her.
Now on this day, Enid sat in front of me, cradling a cup of tea and not touching her slice of cake – I could see she had become a shadow of the lady I had met – and was totally miserable.
This amazing lady, who had been a driver throughout World War II, whilst based in Europe – was now clinging to the last fragments of happiness within her confines.
Enid began to tell me that her son had moved her into this residence – by clearing her out of the home, disposed of all her things and had become her Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardian – on the provision of her incapacity.
However, the residence that her son had selected – was the cheapest one – and not even close to him or family.
She couldn’t take anything that she wanted, in the way of furniture or belongings – as he had ‘packed her up and shipped her off’ without any instructions, never mind a conversation or acknowledgment of Enid’s wants.
He had lodged the EPA at the bank – then automatically took ‘control’ of her money. Even though Enid was as sharp as a tack at 87 and had been living independently and financially sustainable up until the move.
He gave her just $50 a week cash spending money, had taken her debit and credit cards away and then with his girlfriend and their combined children, had taken a 3-week holiday to Europe and then another one to Disneyland a couple of months later. However, neither of them had been able to afford such elaborate holidays before.
He visited begrudgingly, only once in last 9 months, and she had not been out of the residence to visit them at home or to see her grandchildren.
As Enid finished talking, she was silently crying into her cup of tea. Whilst I sat there taking slow deep breaths to quell the bubbling rage of the situation and sheer anger I had towards the son, I could only provide her with some advice on how to elevate the situation, should she have the strength to fight (of which I knew she probably hadn’t).
On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I want to share with you three tips – to better protect yourself / loved one. Whilst hoping that in educating ourselves, we can educate the younger generation to respect their elders more – otherwise they may be the ones abusing you when the time comes:
- Ensure your Enduring Power of Attorneys and Enduring Power of Guardianships have Joint Powers Only.
If you have concerns or even a slight niggle about the intentions of your proposed Attorney/Guardian – make sure that they have joint powers only, and where one Attorney is either a professional (lawyer/accountant) you know and trust, or someone you have absolute faith in their ethical responsibility to protect you; and always seek professional legal advice when drafting these documents.
- Empower yourself with a Wish List
Begin to look at your future, whether it’s visiting different residential facilities or simply writing a Wish List of residences and specific items you would like to take with you, or gift should you ever have to transition – and may not have the capacity to make the decision when the time comes. Attach this wish list with your EPA/EPG.
- Engage within Your Community
Remain active with your social and spiritual networks, talk to your elderly neighbours to reduce their level of isolation, embrace your elder relatives with love and activities – because without our elders we wouldn’t have had a future. Don’t be afraid to talk to your network and seek guidance, because although our children may be blood – remaining independent for as long as we can – may ensure your autumn and winter years are still filled with happiness.
If you believe that you or an older person you know is being financially or physically abused – Call ADVOCARE on
1800 655 566 or 1300 724 679 (WA)
*name changed to protect our elder