I attended a play on Elder Abuse this past weekend titled: “Grandpa Is Not a Cash Cow & Grandma Won’t Take Any Bull” organized by Seniors Action Quebec. It was excellent! The cast, except for 3, were all seniors. Le Theatre La Belle Gang presented. The play was written by Francois Jobin and directed by Marie-Claude Henault.
Issues of financial, emotional, verbal abuse, and psychological abuse were addressed in vivid, humorous, and easily recognizable vignettes. Physical abuse and sexual abuse were not outwardly addressed, but these are a bit harder to portray within a play.
Examples of the vignettes are: adult children (sisters) discussing placement while older adult present (recently suffered a stroke), but not including her in the decision-making. A grandchild that approaches her grandfather seeking money for a class trip and this was suggested by the adult child (grandpa’s daughter), an adult daughter who is verbally abusive towards her mother and demanding a check supposedly to be used to pay the mother’s bills, residents in a senior residence sitting around talking and waiting for their Sunday visitors that might show (children and grandchildren), an adult son talking on the phone to a friend saying that if his mother, who baby sat his sister’s kids, will not take his 2-year-old daughter for the weekend, she will see the granddaughter much less often, and the infamous scam of a ‘company’ coming to a senior residence and promising the world, taking the residents money, and giving nothing in return. Another scene was of a ‘doting’ niece who started paying extra special attention to her aunt when the uncle died and suggested that her aunt update her will.
Getting older is not easy, but it does not have to be negative. There may be more dependence on others for IADL’s, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living; cleaning, meal preparation, shopping, transportation, finances, medical appointments, medication management, communication and/or ADL’s- Activities of Daily Living; bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding, ambulating (mobility), cognitive issues, auditory or visual challenges, and fewer socialization opportunities. Household management becomes more difficult and often adult children and grandchildren live out-of-town and a senior has to rely on the community, friends, and agencies or organizations for assistance.
Possible Abuse: What to Look out for and What to Do:
Potential Signs of Abuse:
- They criticize me
- They ignore me
- They isolate me from others
- I am dependent on others
- They take control of my affairs, i.e. finances, medication, medical appointments, hiring of homecare assistance, etc.
- They boss me around
- They raise their voice to me and at me
- I am lonely
- I am depressed
- I cry often
- They ask me for money all the time
- I have no decision-making power
To Counter the Possible Abuse:
- Say no! Assert yourself to family members, friends, and acquaintances.
- It is your life and you should be able to go out and do as you please without approval.
- You can call or talk to whomever you want.
- You have socialization activities whether playing cards, exercising, attending a social group or meeting friends for lunch to keep you busy.
- Call your local, provincial or state Elder Abuse Hotline for information, clarification, with specific questions. Arm yourself with knowledge!
- CSSS Cavendish in Cote St. Luc, Quebec- http://www.cssscavendish.qc.ca/ or 514-484-7878.
- http://www.aqdr.org/ (French)
By Victoria Brewster, MSW