Monday, December 23, 2013

Reality check: Elder abuse is on the rise.

By Alex Schadenberg

The Associated Press published an article on December 23, 2013 titled: Elder abuse, including neglect, is on the rise. This article is a reality check.

Many family members or care-givers lack the capacity to care, or they have negative attitudes, or they lack empathy and compassion for person's in need, or they may be self-centered. We must not hide our heads in the sand, these are horrific crimes that are perpetrated for many reasons.

The suicide lobby are turning a blind eye to the reality of life for many seniors, and people with disabilities, who are dependent on others, when they promote euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. 

The article begins with the story of Australian, Cynthia Thoresen:
By the time the ambulance showed up to the house, the old woman's screams were, as the paramedics would later tell it, already at a 10 out of 10. 
On a bed in the foyer lay 88-year-old Cynthia Thoresen, her eyes screwed up in agony, her fists clenched, with an untended broken leg. Feces caked her body, from her arms down to her feet, filling the crevices between her toes and under her fingernails. 
The fact that Cynthia even lived in the house was a surprise to most of the neighbors. None had ever seen her. None had any idea she'd spent her final days in hellish pain after a fall. None knew that her daughter and caretaker, Marguerite Thoresen, had waited weeks before calling for help, or that the help would come far too late. 
In the end, Cynthia Thoresen joined a large and growing cohort of elderly people across the world who live — and increasingly die — in silence. They are unseen and unheard, left to fend for themselves against a problem society has barely begun to notice, let alone fix: elder abuse.
The article continues:
This type of abuse, which in many cases includes neglect, is still so hidden that it is hard to quantify. But the broad picture gleaned from hundreds of interviews and dozens of studies reviewed by The Associated Press is clear: Tens of millions of elders have become victims, trapped between governments and families, neither of which has figured out how to protect or provide for them. 
Most of the elderly live with relatives or at home, and researchers estimate at least 4 to 10 percent of them are abused, likely much more. Even by the lowest count of 4 percent, that means about 30 million people. 
The demographics alone show clearly that the problem is growing. By the year 2050, there will be more old people on earth than children for the first time in history, because of rising life spans and falling birth rates. 
Australia, where Cynthia Thoresen lived, is a developed, wealthy nation considered progressive in its treatment of seniors. But even in high-income countries, the rate of abuse is 4 to 6 percent, according to the World Health Organization. And even here, the system failed Cynthia, over and over again, in life and in death. 
"Nothing in the past has disturbed me like this job disturbed me," paramedic Christopher Curtis told police. "I've not seen anyone, regardless of their age, that could withstand the level of pain inflicted by a fractured femur for five seconds, let alone three weeks." 
And yet Cynthia Thoresen lay helpless for up to three months, screaming into the silent void of a world that had forgotten her.
Elder abuse is a serious societal scourge. To suggest that decriminalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is safe, is a foolish statement considering the real reality of life for many vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.

If you think that assisted suicide is always a "free choose" then think again. We do not live in a utopia, nor do we live in a plastic bubble, we live with others, many of whom lack the capacity to care for the needs of vulnerable people and many of whom are only concerned with their own financial or other potential for personal gain.

Society needs to improve how it cares for its vulnerable citizens. 
Society needs to recognize the need to protect elders from abuse
Society needs to develop a culture of care and reject the killing of its citizens.

Similar articles:
Very few elder abuse complaints are prosecuted.
 Physician-Assisted Suicide: A recipe for elder abuse.

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