Saturday, June 15, 2013

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Did you know?
  • 1 in 10 elders will be victims of elder abuse 
  • only 20% of elder abuse cases are ever reported to the authorities, or
  • that amounts to more than  a half a million reported cases of elder abuse in the US...each year!
Today, June 15th, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.So what is elder abuse?

When we think of elder abuse, we may immediately think of a vulnerable senior who is physically assaulted. But elder abuse can take various forms:
  • Physical and Sexual Abuse- Unexplained cuts, bruises, fractures, or reports of unwanted sexual contact or unexplained sexually transmitted infections.
  • Neglect- Inadequate food, hygiene, clean or appropriate clothing. living in dangerous environment (e.g., lacking heat, utilities), withholding medications or medical aids (walker, hearing aids, dentures). Confinement to bed without care, or  left without necessary supervision.
  • Psychological or Emotional Abuse- verbal aggression, threats, intimidation, social isolation, or uncaring
  • Financial Exploitation- Controlling and 'living off' the elders resources without providing for their needs, excessive 'payments' or 'gifts'  for care or companionship, withholding goods or services the elder needs and can afford, coercing the elder into turning over property or financial resources when they cannot understand the transaction.
Elders may be abused by family, caregivers, or professionals providing care. The frail elderly are at increased risk for victimization. Social isolation, dependence on the abuser for basic needs and dementia or declining cognitive functioning can prevent a vulnerable elder from disclosing the abuse.

Most elder abuse goes undetected. If you are suspect abuse, report your concerns to  your county's 
Adult Protective Services. You do not need proof of abuse; they can investigate to determine if abuse is occurring. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Those were the days...maybe not

If you grew up in the 70's , it's a pretty good bet that you used to watch All in the Family. I know every week my parents and I would gather around the black and white Magnavox TV and laugh at the antics of Archie, Edith, Gloria and 'the Meathead'. That was quality family time.

Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker) recently passed away. In a nostalgic moment this weekend, my hubby, lounging in his well-loved recliner, was watching old episodes of All in the Family on his computer. Cooking dinner I watched over his shoulder an episode called Archie's Chair in which Michael accidentally breaks Archie's iconic recliner.

The family frantically tries to get the chair repaired before Archie returns home, only for the unthinkable to happen...the repair company mistakes his chair for junk and discards it. Archie has a fit, tyrannizing Edith by yelling and threatening to break furniture; it was the classic reactionary Archie Bunker rant we all laughed at back in my youth.

I suddenly had an Ah Ha moment; these are classic red flags. The family continually walking on eggshells. Sometimes he's loving and tender, but  sometimes uses anger or intimidation to maintain order in his house. Wow... that sounds a lot like the power and control that characterizes an abusive relationship. And that's what my family, and millions of others like us all over America, called family entertainment back in the 70's.

Archie's charm was his unabashed humanness... including stubbornness, vehement political conservatism and bigotry.But I don't recall anyone ever commenting on his behaviors as abusive.  Was Edith in danger from Archie's rages? Never. Did he love her? Clearly. Did his incessant disrespect, "Stifle it Edith" erode her self worth? Undoubtedly.Did the whole family tread carefully to avoid rousing his ire? Every single episode.Is my reaction excessive? Arguably.... but maybe it's also an indicator of how far we've come. Today it's simply not funny to see someone raging at their loved ones... it's uncomfortable. 

But the show also answers the age-old question, "Why people stay in an abusive relationship?". Often because they love the person, even with all his/her complex human flaws. Or because they've made a commitment to each other... for better or worse. Would we ever picture Edith leaving Archie? No. But why didn't we ever question why it was OK, even funny to treat a loved one that way? Maybe because it was all in the family. It's interestingly that I  see things so differently with 30 or 40 years to think about what makes a loving relationship. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Katherine Seeber ... how many victims?

Katherine Seeber was a perpetrator of domestic violence...and she was a victim of domestic violence, more than once. But she  wasn't the only victim...in fact I don't think we can even count how many people's lives have been tragically impacted by the multiple domestic violence events in her life alone.

Reading yesterday's  Saratogian news article about the murder  of Katherine Seeber, I am so struck by how much violence and how much suffering has orbited this family in the past decade. From her part in the brutal murder of her helpless 91 year-old grandmother (she states her co-conspirator in the murder was an abusive partner who "had a hold on her life") to several abusive relationships, some even after receiving domestic violence counseling in prison, to her own death at the hands of an abuser, there has been a roller coaster of violence and despair. The ups and downs, courtroom machinations and senselessness of all this violence  leaves me shaking my head. But I can't shake away how much this family and their friends has suffered...and continues to do so.

And they're not the only ones. The effects of relationship abuse aren't limited just to the partners in the abusive relationship .Recently I stumbled on a website that lists news stories about domestic violence homicides in the US.This isn't pleasant reading; I can't think of anything more horrific or voyeuristic  than reading the details of multiple murders. But take just five minutes and read it anyway.  Why? Because  it really makes an impact. We've all  seen these stories in our newspapers and after a while we become desensitized.

When I read about  one domestic homicide after another, it strikes me how pervasive and tragic this problem is.We have to... I have to... do whatever I can to end relationship abuse. Because I know that while most abusive relationships don't end in death, some do, and we can't predict which ones. When I read these news stories back to back I understand what the blog's author means, "When is society going to realize intimate violence makes victims of us all?"

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eat A Donut Today... For the USA

Today is National Donut Day. No kidding-... it's a real US holiday, recognized the first Friday of every June. 

Why? Because in WWI there were comfort stations to assist the soldiers. These stations provided physical and emotional nourishment for our soldiers. Female volunteers provided food, including donuts (leading to the moniker Donut Dollies).

These Donut Dollies aren't feeding the troops... they're having a snack.
Later, in 1938 the Salvation Army in Chicago implemented National Donut Day as a way to raise funds to support our troops. 

It’s a fun reason to stop and pick up a dozen donuts… but also a great reminder of all the men and women who have risked so much to support our country. So enjoy a donut today… and don’t forget to thank a veteran too!