April 23, 2016
STOP IT! Stop the neglect! I see it more and more as I seek out those needing care. Open your eyes and SEE IT. It is happening in your neighborhoods, in your families. People at your place of employment are guilty of it. People in your church are guilty of it. They are guilty of NEGLECT. Here are some of the most flagrant of outward signs:
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
- Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes
- Being left dirty or unbathed
- Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
- Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water; faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)
- Desertion of the elder at a public place
There are many other, more subtle forms of neglect, such as leaving someone who is not capable of dialing the phone alone for more than a few minutes. Or someone who does not know to get something to eat or drink for themselves. Or someone who may open the door for anyone who knocks, without thinking about safety. Or someone who is not able to drive but still is. Or someone who is not taking care of his or her own medical needs. Or someone who is at risk of falling and not able to get up. Or someone who would not be able to get out of the house if there was a fire. ETC. The bottom line is, if someone is not able to take care of themselves totally, they should not be left alone! These are the ones I am encountering. Why are they not coming to the health club for seniors? The reasons people are not bringing to us the people they know are not safe to be left alone vary, but most of them are just in denial, I believe. They may be listening to the elder tell them they are fine instead of LOOKING and seeing the signs. They don’t understand the aging process and are not aware of how the person who is left alone may be in danger and/or suffering from fear and/or suffering from want.
Of course, there are others who do not bring people here because they do not want to spend the money they hope to inherit some day. To them I say: you are committing a crime, punishable by prison.
We are the least expensive form of long term care for those who need care. I am constantly amazed by how our culture seems to value pets more than older folks.
We are human. We are not perfect. But I believe God wants us to be our brother’s keeper. And our sister’s. And our mother’s. And our father’s. And our neighbor’s. And anyone else we encounter who needs help to have basic needs met.
Be forewarned: if I learn about neglect or other forms of abuse, I will call the elder abuse hotline. And you should too. It is the law. You do not have to give your name. You can do it anonymously. You do not have to substantiate the neglect. If you SUSPECT neglect or abuse, you MUST report it: 1-800-752-6200