5 Forms of Elder Abuse and the Catholic Response
Psalm 71: 9 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.”
Of course positive relations of family members and professionals with elders is the desired way, but maltreatment of the elderly has become a public concern. Existing throughout the general population, but in the U. S. there are lower reported incidences of elder maltreatment among the more traditional cultures: Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans. Most abusers are family members spouses and adult children, but also friends, neighbors, and in-home or nursing facility caregivers. And clearly the influence of Catholicism among all groups has positive affects toward inter generational relations.
Let us describe the forms of elder maltreatment.
Certain family members may be guilty of inflicting pain or discomfort through hitting, physical force, and others negative behaviors.
Failure in caregiver obligations in delivering food, medicine or other health services is a common abuse. Also many of the elderly may be left alone or isolated.
Verbal assaults are common such as humiliation, name calling or intimidation. Older persons may be threatened to be placed in a nursing home or isolated.
Unwanted sexual contact is often recognized in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Financial Abuse and Exploitation
Exploiting the elder’s property or financial resources theft or without consent is regularly uncovered and probably the most frequently reported.
1 Timothy 5: 8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
As one ages, seniors will increasingly tend to embrace faith in their lives. Faith is that value we have all clung to during the trying times of our lives and for Catholics it is the value for which we have a moral responsibility. The Catholic values of concern and looking out for others is very much connected to the value of faith. In fact it is the faith community of Christians, Protestant and Catholic, that most frequently visit the elderly and elderly care centers. Not only is visitation an important vehicle to alleviate loneliness, it is part and partial of looking out for the interests of the elderly, our most vulnerable church members.
James 5:13-15 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Through your local church, you can volunteer to visit the elderly at their personal home or institutional home.