Saturday, October 05, 2013

Elder Project


Now and again I forget I'm an elder. Well actually, most of the time. I truly do. I was discussing my elder project with Grandgirl recently and commiserating with her on some of the truly sad stories I have heard from old people when she said: "Grandma but you are an old person!"

"Well so I am!" I replied, in shock and a kind of awe.

Don't get me wrong.

I truly enjoy being an old person. I'm so very fortunate I have my health in reasonably good array. I don't put all my energies, as so many do, into fighting off the signs, the dyeing of the hair, the belly lifts, the chin tucks, the eye-lifts, the $100 anti-aging creams. Not my style - but Namaste if it is yours. Age must be embraced I feel and not denied. Perhaps all this denial is a fear of death. But it will come, botoxed or not, right? I'd rather you saw the ravages of age on my own deceased corpse. Truly.

"There she goes," you might say, "But hats (purple, please) off to her, she lived every bloody minute of it, didn't she? She's all worn out and not rusted out."

Which brings me to this project I've been given due to the play I wrote which covered the same topic. Elder abuse. I won't be talking to elders about this but to schools and other venues around the province in order to shed more light on this pervasive and heart-wrenching subject.

I've been doing the index card thingie to make sure I cover all aspects of this rampant problem in our society. There are far too many index cards. Physical abuse is the least of it.

And as I was jotting down the aspects of emotional abuse(one of the very worst forms in my opinion) on one of these cards, I realized that I, too, have been a victim of this subtle and insidious form of abuse. Some who were very close to me have withdrawn their affection from me. Without rhyme or reason. And it hurts. Badly. The most recent form being when I reached out yet again and was rebuffed, basically, with if I had behaved myself better they might have phoned me but now they wouldn't.

And I only realized this was abuse when I was preparing the workshop.

I think one of the major problems in elder abuse recognition is either the trauma not being recognised at all, or a mindset of such denial for it is deemed far too appalling to contemplate.

I've just proved my own case.

And I don't like it.

Not one bit.

18 comments:

  1. Had to laugh at your response to "But YOU are old!" because my son recently said "YOU are old, Mom" to me when I was speaking of my OWN elders. I do tend to forget that to someone in their twenties, I seem ancient at 54.

    Re abuse; unless it's a smack upside the head, it can be difficult to face. You think it's "just" someone being cranky or rude or immature or unevolved or even "different" or maybe "that's how men are."

    And then, to recognize that you yourself, a strong and independent woman, have been living with it, why, that is ever so hard to believe and accept.

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  2. SJG:

    We're the last to recognise it. I was very upset both at the words and tone of their side of our last exchanges but did not see it for what it was until now.

    I am reliving it all again in light of this discovery. And I am sickened not to call it out for what it was.

    And all this work I've done on abuse, etc. :( It's not the first time for me either...

    XO
    WWW

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  3. I’ve nearly always enjoyed being an elder – well almost.

    About 30-years ago, when I was a mere waif, my (stylishly long) hair and beard chose to go nearly white at the same time. (The result, I’ve long believed, of trying to manage writers!!!!) That was enough to assure some people would assume I had passed into my golden years and get quizzical glances from small children in shopping centre parking lots in July. They could never be sure where I had parked the reindeer but figured they must be close. For the parents’ benefit, I always asked “are you being good”? and usually tried to leave them with my best imitation of ho-ho-ho. Blessed with a relatively deep voice, it wasn’t a stretch for me.

    The best part though was when I would go into retail establishments and often be asked “would you like the senior’s discount”? It was their polite way of saying “are you an old fogey who qualifies for the five cents off per gallon”?

    Inevitably, if I asked if I *wanted* it, I said yes; if I was asked if I *qualified* for it, I would say no. Honour among the faux old.

    The necessity of your project is so obvious that governments should be ashamed. There are so few safeguards in place to protect the elders that one could make an argument that government create the circumstances to permit such abuse. Power of attorney arrangements are often little more than a license to steal money.

    As our elder population increases at breakneck speed, government departments dedicated to elder care need to flourish but that won’t happen.

    We preached peace & love in the 60s and 70s – maybe now we need to preach safety for our elders. There are too many metaphorical ice floes out there.

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  4. Oh yes,
    once again
    we are similar and guess lately I have experienced the elder abuse
    and now realize what it was.
    I remember the same comment from my then about 4 year old granddaughter when sharing something about growing old and she replied "but grandma
    your already old" she made me smile. They always speak truth :)

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  5. I can relate to the grandgirl's comment but in a different context. There are people in my life who think that I am still in my fifties and expect me to do things that I find difficult to even contemplate. It comes as quite a shock to some when I tell them that I have physical limitations! Luckily, I have not yet been exposed to the kind of emotional abuse but I do know that it exists and can happen to me too.

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  6. It's shunning WWW, and it is one of the cruelest forms of abuse honed to perfection in religious communities but now, I think, become secular, used by families to punish women. Others might not speak to you either, for fear of making the person shunning you angry at them. Some just follow the shun because it gives them power to know you are being hurt. Many don't know why, and that's teh worst because they fill in the blank with some horror. And yet men who abuse, do they get shunned? No, it's the women who name them who pay. Shunned even by the women in the family. Who did you not protect WWW, what man did you 'name' which did you out? I bet, it's that, somewhere.

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  7. Veep:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

    Yes, it is rampant, I was at a small dinner party last night and a man who is actually dying of cancer (he doesn't talk about it, his sister quietly informed me) is also a victim of his ex-wife's cruelties.

    XO
    WWW

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  8. OWJ:

    I am so sorry to hear that. I think we lost track of our elders when we started warehousing them away from community and comfort.

    XO
    WWW

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  9. Ramana:

    Physically I am fortunate in that I do run with youngers but that can end in brittle bones and...I'd rather not go there. :)

    Yes I was numb for days on what was perpetrated on me and didn't recognise it for what it was until working on this project.

    I wonder how much else of it is out there of which we are unaware??

    XO
    WWW

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  10. Anon:

    You say:

    "Others might not speak to you either, for fear of making the person shunning you angry at them."

    Have you got a camera on my life? This is EXACTLY what's happened. It has infected a whole segment of my own family. It is devastating in its breadth and scope.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. One of my blogger buddies rejected me,and then I found out that she had rejected two other bloggers as well.So we met for lunch in Honolulu and had a fine time without her!

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  12. I would never reject you Hattie, now if I could find the funds for an air ticket to Hawaii, we'd be all set. :)

    Xo
    WWW

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  13. Great post WWW!and a fine and thoughtful comment from VP.

    Personally the thing that bugs me the most is the patronizing by some of the younger generation.
    I did once cure a waiter in a Boston Pizza of that sin...lol

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  14. My plan is to become a battleaxe extraordinaire. They are very hard to ignore and very necessary in today's society. All women should aspire to become glorious in battleaxehood.

    As for the attitudes of other people you mention, that assumes that they are not ageing themselves. Could it be their own panic at their own ageing that causes them to withdraw and then blame the other person. A man I know in his 60s told me that an old flame had recently looked him up but then refused to meet. He was hurt by this until she finally admitted that she didn't want him to see how she was now, but to remember her as she was when they were dating.

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  15. GFB:

    You must share that experience one time :) I agree with you, the patronization is awful. I am so sick of being called "sweetie". (=simpleton)

    XO
    WWW

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  16. Laura:

    Ageism is fearsome. Why can't we just glory in it? Marketing has done appalling damage. It is all about youth and how to stay in that state. Elders were revered at one time. Not now. They are causes for shame and invisibility.

    I am fighting so you don't have to. :)

    XO
    WWW

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  17. Would have loved to attend your elder abuse workshop -- as I too was the target of it by a close family member. I have so many questions about how this can happen. -- barbara

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  18. Barbara:

    Daughter will be filming one of my presentations so I can send you a copy. Let me know.

    XO
    WWW

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