Everyone at some time has noticed friends, family and workmates withdraw from social contact, allow personal grooming to slip by the wayside, cringe at a raised voice or look blank when addressed in conversation. Not many people recognize these signs of emotional or mental abuse. Most people expect signs of emotional abuse to manifest in the physical arena, because they’re accustomed to seeing it broadcast over social media every day. There are silent signs, however, when these and other signs of emotional abuse happen during elder care. Then it becomes everyone’s business.
How it Begins
Those who abuse are basically bullies with a deep need to control. Love is only a word to them, and they use it ruthlessly to control other people. These types of people look for someone who is in need. The elderly are perfect for this type person. Our bully or controller gently takes charge of the situation by moving into the house and helping obtain what the senior needs. When the senior is comfortable with this answer to his or her problems, the controlling begins.
How it Manifests
When a previously lively and vital human being suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn, s/he might suffer emotional abuse. When a previously healthy person who worked out regularly and ate properly suddenly shows signs of sleeplessness, unhealthy eating and fails to exercise at all, s/he might suffer signs of emotional abuse. The senior is also firmly isolatedfrom any friends who would see these signs and move to help the senior. No senior care facility will be allowed to send someone to help the senior, because, after all, this person is there, isn’t s/he? The finances are usually cleaned out first, then any property the senior owns and any assets until the senior is finally living in abject penury.
Why it’s Everyone’s Business
Aside from the fact that we care about these people, elders suffering emotional abuse have been rendered completely helpless. This has an effect on those around them. The senior’s health suffers, which could provide symptoms of illnesses that could affect others. Absentmindedness has all sorts of effects, from not paying sufficient attention when driving, if the controller hasn’t sold the senior’s car, to improperly using mechanical devices like electric knives. Sleeplessness and ill health make people weak. There is always the worry about suicide, if these sufferers are pushed over the line of what they can no longer take.
When people hear the word counseling, they think of two things: what it will cost and what they will be required to tell. Fear of the controlling influence in their lives is a very real consideration for the ill and helpless elderly. Money to pay for the counseling is also a very real fear. It might not be there anymore. The plain truth is that without counseling, sufferers of emotional abuse will not learn the tactics that will make them strong again, will make them able to cope again. Their independence and their self-esteem is at stake.
If you suspect someone is giving your elderly family members emotional abuse, please understand that the well trained and compassionate home care personnel at Home Matters are standing ready and able to help when you contact us for more information.