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The Forgotten One

I have had many jobs over the years, but the most rewarding one was being a Home Health Aide. My parents had raised me to always respect my elderly, and by being an Aide to the elderly made my respect grow even more. While performing my job, I learned so much from my patients. After just a few days on the job, I realized the full importance of my weekly and daily visits to each patient.

No matter my mood or how my own day had been going, I always made sure to enter each elderly person's home with a smile. Once inside their homes, their love and kindness warmed my heart and my smile just kept on growing. Some of my Patients were difficult. Some because they had received poor care before I came along, or because of their illness and could not help it. Whatever the reason, each one grew to trust me and looked forward to my return.

There are many excellent Home Health Care Providers and Aides, but there are also some that are not. My patients have told me stories about neglect, such as not getting complete baths or their blood pressure taken. Sometimes, the Aides just never showed up and never called. This meant that the patients would go for another week without care of any kind.

The elderly are humans too, and just like us they need and want to be clean and presentable. They want their homes cleaned and sometimes they just want someone to show that they care. When the elderly do not get the proper care, accidents happen. They will try to do things themselves that most of them should not be doing.

My visits were normally set up for one hour, but I usually stayed longer. I enjoyed sitting and listening to the stories of their lives and families. We would sit over a cup of coffee and both of us would share and laugh and even cry. This was only done after blood pressure and medication checks, and baths and housekeeping. After my work was done properly, it then became my free time and I chose to spend it with the elderly.

Some elderly have no family or their family live far away, and with no means of getting around they are left alone a great deal of the time. My extra 20 minutes or so each visit not only brightened their day, but brightened mine also. Due to a personal illness, I found that I could no longer keep doing this job. One thing I can do, is to inform the public about the abuse that is taking place among our elderly. Through my job and through research, I have learned startling facts that need to be brought forth. The elderly and their families, along with the public and Health Agencies, need to be more aware of the signs of possible abuse.

The Major Types of elderly Abuse:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Sexual Assault
  • Rape
  • Deprivation of food and water
  • Physical or chemical restraint
  • Domestic
  • Emotional or psychological
  • Abandonment
  • Financial or material exploitation

Who are the Abusers?
  • A Family member
  • A Friend
  • A Neighbor
  • A Home health aid
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals

Reports of elderly abuse increased 150 percent from 1986 to 1996, from 117,000 cases to 293,000, according to experts dealing with this issue. Elderly abuse is widespread and growing rapidly. As people live longer, the abuse of the elderly will likely rise.

In a lot of cases, most reports are never made because the abuse to an elderly person is done by a family member. Because of this, the elderly keep their mouths shut and live in fear.

Just like children in most cases, these elderly are helpless and need someone to rely on. When that someone you rely on is the abuser, then the situation usually becomes uglier. The children are our future! The elderly are our History!

To do your part as far as watching for signs of abuse, look for bruising or black eyes, loss in weight, missing items in the home, sudden change in banking account, etc.

When you see an elderly person on the street, remember that one day you will grow old and walk in their shoes. Treat them how you would want to be treated. Listen to what they have to say. Hold a door open or flash them a smile. It's the little things that count! Just because they are much older, does not mean that they no longer have feelings or that they are dumb. Aging is a part of life for us all, and elderly abuse will only get worse if we don't begin doing our part. Ask yourself, "what will it be like when I am an elderly person?" That's a scary thought that should never be.

Do not be afraid to report any kind of abuse or violence! Your voice along with others, can make a difference in our future.

Many states have instituted a 24 hour toll-free number to take reports of abuse and ALL calls are CONFIDENTIAL.

I have included some toll-free numbers below along with some other resourceful links for more information and facts. For state toll-free numbers that I have not provided, you can call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. They can provide all the numbers that are needed.

Here are some toll free numbers for reporting elderly abuse:

Alabama: 800-458-7214

California: 800-231-4024

Delaware: 800-223-9074

Florida: 800-962-2873

Indiana: 800-992-6978

Michigan: 800-996-6228

Nebraska: 800-652-1999

Ohio: 800-282-1206

Texas: 800-252-5400

Washington: 800-422-3263

The lady in the story above is just one of thousands! What if that was your Grandmother or Mother? Don't let it happen to your loved ones or neighbors. Let's respect and protect our HISTORY!



Copyright Shelley L. Moss. Reprinted with permission.

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