It comes as an ongoing observation and at the same time a concern. A concern mainly because it happens so silently, with little notice until bam, one is taken. It is elder abuse and while there are laws to govern and protect us as we age, it is a very thick veil that covers the action by many. The action going undetected and difficult to prove.
In the small town where I live, this seems prevalent. Living in a small town one’s world becomes much smaller and the older one is, the smaller that world. It can be lonely. It can be a sense of vulnerability which prompts concern. The physical abilities go. The eye sight goes so one can not drive even a short distance. The alertness of the mind begins to wain and one begins to question themselves or so it seems.
A former neighbor of mine has fallen prey to all of the characteristics of being manipulated. Being coerced into changing things a bit. Well not a bit, a lot. To believing the option presented is the only one because perhaps there is no one else to help or care. Those doing all of this create a sense of need. Create a sense of further vulnerability. A sense that it is the only answer. They do so for the shear purpose of gaining all the person has. Wills are changed. Promises made. The older persons falters a bit and they swoop in, changing locks. Taking control of the assets while the person is away in a hospital feeling lost and out of control. The person knows little of this and no one wants to tell him because he is so ill yet he continues to feel that all is the same with his home, his property. Decisions are made perhaps not in his best interest yet because they have been previously given the power by this person to do so. Given the power in good faith they will do the right thing. The power was given because he had been convinced there was no alternative.
Older people deep down seem to fall into a frame of mind of fear. They fear they will be alone. They fear they will not be able to take care of themselves. Some fear of falling as this gentleman did. Some fear they are loosing their faculties as was the case with this man. And on the ready, those seeking are quick to pat his hand and say it is ok further endorsing he is faltering, his fear.
So they swoop in, as if like vultures on the highway hovering over a road kill even before the poor creature has died. They start nibbling away at the belongs. Need your car. The car is given. Need money. Money is given. Let’s go to dinner, you pay. Then the friendship is created. The belief in sincerity prevails. The belief they care. Of course they care however only for the lovely greenbacks they are salivating over or the beautiful property, the car. They offer that they will take care of the person to the end yet who really does is the nurse in attendance. The nurse who is doing the dirty work. The nurse is making a salary because it is her job to care. Yet these people who wait. Who take. Who pretend to have feelings really have little time or regard. It is an effort to do what is right because it is tedious. Excuses are made yet they continue to create the impression that they care yet even in ill health, the man begins to know.. His dignity is taken because he begins to realize he was manipulated. His hands are now tied. His pockets have fallen slack because the manipulators are great actors who have their sights on the material goods and nothing else. So the stage is set. The play written. The characters cast.
And so it is that in one’s frail years we must do all we can to protect ourselves. We must step up to protect those we see this happening to. We must at all cost give the older person their dignity. In the end all we have is our dignity and in the end that is what everyone should respect. The tactics of taking advantage of a vulnerable older person are perhaps not the same as the abuse we see among people today. The bullying that makes the news. Yet it is just that and there needs to be awareness everywhere that this happens constantly…not just once in a while, constantly and especially to those who do not have any immediate family. Sometimes even to those with family, if the family is detached however not as frequently as the person who finds himself alone in a small confining world.
It is heartbreaking. It is criminal. It is unacceptable. It needs to change. It needs to be brought to the forefront of publicity. It needs to be stopped.
Their hands need to be slapped and the person needs to be allowed to live his remaining time with dignity before the final call. Before the current closes on the last act. Dignity should override the hands in his pockets as the curtain slowly closes because there is no encore. No applause to come. Just the quietness of dignity or so we hope.