THE ELDERLY AND DEPRESSION, PART II

 I have been writing about elder abuse and protecting the elder. In this process, I have learn so much and I hope that this journey has helped those who read this as well. I really did not fully grasp the plight of the elderly until I noticed my mother’s struggle with grief.

My mother has been the rock of my family and now since she has suffered a bout with depression after suffering the loss of the mother, niece and brother, I painfully watched the woman I love so much become a shell of who she was.

I did not know that I had to become her champion and protect from potential predators. There were those who tried to say that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. I kept saying that they were wrong and was accused of being in denial.

When she started having hallucinations, I took her to the optometrist to make sure that she was not suffering from Charles Bonnet Syndrome, which is the experience of complex visual hallucinations in patients with visual loss.

I later took her to her primary doctor. This man was the kind of doctor that anyone who had a medical problem would love to have, comforted her and assured her that she was not crazy. He told her that she was taking on too much and learn how to say no.

I took her to a psychiatrist and she explained to my mother that depression at her age is different. This is a result of losing those in her peer group, i.e. siblings, cousins, etc. She also suggested that she stop isolating herself and start socializing. This made all of the difference to her. I can report that she has been significant progress.

I tell this story about my mother because there were those who cruelly validated her hallucinations and told her that they were real, her  money was stolen and she was in fear. This, in my opinion, is definitely abuse.

To those who are caretakers of older loved ones, you are charged with the responsibility to champion their survival and helping them maintain their quality of life.

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.

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THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT REPORTING ELDER ABUSE

I have noticed that my mother’s generation believed in silence. Today’s generation share too much information via social media. It would be wonderful if we were all more forthcoming about reporting elder abuse.

It is estimated that 84% of elder abuse incidents go unreported. Think about it. Eighty-four percent of incidents go unreported. Many view it as a family matter or the classic, “it’s none of my business.” I have news for you. It is all of our business.

Elder abuse is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. In 2012, $2.9 billion was the estimated loss of the elderly as a result of financial fraud.

The reality is that many know of incidents of the mistreatment of the elderly and refuse to report it. I find it irritating when those who witnessed incidents relay details of the incidents after it is too late.

Families keep quiet about it but become proactive when it relates to loss of an inheritance. I can tell you firsthand that the authorities will not invest time in investigating a claim of financial exploitation after the senior has passed. It requires a lot of time investigating and many of the law enforcement officers are not trained in elder abuse investigation, particularly elder financial abuse.The result of not taking action has resulted in loss of homes, cars, and money. A detective serving in the elder abuse unit in Delaware County, Pennsylvania said that it makes his job difficult trying to convince his superiors to pursue a case when the victim is deceased. For a detective who cares, this is frustrating.

There are also social consequences as well. The message that is sent to the younger generation is one that allows tolerance of the mistreatment of the elderly. This should strike fear in the baby boomers who are raising a generation that many feel are probably the most disrespectful, irresponsible and feel a great sense of entitlement.

There are also physical consequences as well. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “for older people, the consequences of abuse can be especially serious because their bones are more brittle and convalescence takes them longer. Even a relatively minor injury can cause serious and permanent damage.”

As I always mention, please report all incidents to the proper authorities. You can also find information on the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.