Who are you
talking about? Not me!
There was a lovely
programme a year or two ago in which an interviewer talked about disability with
a comedian who herself had a speech impairment. They discussed the best term for
someone who is not DISABLED. Their conclusion was NOT YET DISABLED! I sometimes
moan that I can no longer run a mile in 4 (and a half) minutes. When I am
driving ‘better than the average driver’ I need to remind myself that
reflexes slow markedly with age. And I’d definitely prefer not to acknowledge
anything about memory and losing my words!
So some seemingly
kind and quick-witted youngster might conn me into giving them money. This
nearly befell me when, about 7 years ago, I almost fell for a holiday scam which
I thought I had checked out carefully: I am somewhat ashamed to admit it. If I
was dependent on someone helping me in my home and I wondered if they were
taking some of my possessions, how would I respond – especially if I was
afraid of losing their services? And would I ‘forgive’ them if, on one
occasion, they lost their temper when I did not understand what they were saying
and they hit me? Then it happened again? Would I be embarrassed to tell my
family because I had always told them how kind my helper was? And we all know
about ‘walking into a door’. Any one of us can be or become vulnerable.
How might we suspect
abuse going on in others?
Apart from the
obvious signs of physical abuse (inadequately explained bruises, fractures,
broken glasses etc), the responses to abuse tend to be similar to general age
deterioration but happening at an unexpectedly fast rate. The person seems
withdrawn, not socialising the way they used to, maybe frankly depressed,
different from their usual selves, and often not keeping themselves, their
houses or clothes clean.
That is looking at
the problem from the victim’s viewpoint but their ‘carer’ is themselves
often elderly and vulnerable too. Being a carer can be/is extremely stressful
(how many of us already know that?). A
stressed person is more irritable and has less patience. So what might we do, as
‘carers’, to look after ourselves? Maybe we have a DUTY to give ourselves a
break, whether for a couple of hours, or a day or even a week allowing the one
we care for to be looked after by someone else – even though we know others
cannot do it as well as we can!
What can we do as
good neighbours? We can drop in giving opportunity for each to express any
concerns, during which time we might also get a sense that all is not well.
If you have concerns
and wonder if you should be doing anything, there is a national helpline
0808 808 8141
They will listen to
your concerns and help you think through any further actions you might consider.
The Church is
concerned for all vulnerable people, adults young and old, as well as children:
Hilary Higton is our
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, 07495 060869.
You may find the
following website of interest: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/elder-abuse-and-neglect.htm
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