The disturbing images of any elderly person who has been the victim of violent abuse provokes a visceral reaction of anger.
When confronted with the raw reality of someone’s grandmother or grandfather suffering at the hands of his or her children, or even grandchildren, the calm veneer of our personality and reasoned approach to daily living is stripped away and replaced with the white hot emotion of retribution…or even worse.
The image of a battered senior is so jarring, a person might almost be excused for looking away. The permanent memory branded into one’s mind of the ugliness of the violence, for many, is just too heavy an emotional burden to bear.
But look we must - just as when a child or spouse is injured by violence - because only with vigilance and a heightened awareness of the physical and mental signs of elder abuse can meaningful steps be taken to identify those suffering and punishing and/or counseling the abusers.
Because May is Elder Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Awareness month, the Post will publish a series of articles about elder abuse here. The articles have been supplied to us by Ashe County’s Department of Social Services.
The first article, “Learning about elder abuse and neglect” appears in the news section of our website.
It focuses on the spotting the signs of physical or sexual abuse. Honestly, it can be difficult reading because of the explicit descriptions of the types of abuse that can occur.
The article also offers the details of the environment within a family that eventually resulted in the mental and physical abuse of an elderly family member. It is a description of the stresses struggling families face while trying to cope with the everyday pressures of life in these trying economic times.
We all know those pressures can occasionally break a person, physically and spiritually. When they do, all too often, the result is violence directed toward that person who they believe is the cause, or tragically, someone who can’t defend themselves, like an elderly family member or a child.
Again, it is not easy to read. And, sadly, most of us know of families, maybe even our own, and neighbors, in very similar situations as those described in the article.
Information is the first weapon used to fight elder abuse. Making oneself aware of the physical and emotional signs of the abuse is the first step in minimizing and mitigating the harm.
Raising awareness of the issue is equally important. To accomplish this, the Ashe County Elder Abuse Prevention Team will have an “Awareness Walk” at 11 a.m., Friday, May 16, at the Old Jefferson Courthouse. We would encourage everyone who can to participate.
Reading and understanding the triggers in black and white and gaining a clearer understanding the ongoing tragedy of elder abuse just might prevent someone you know from ending up black and blue, or worse.