Senior Scene June 11, 2018

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is marked each year on June 15th. It is an official United Nations International Day acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue.

Since 2006, communities throughout the country and around the world have honoured this day to raise the visibility of elder abuse by organizing events to share information and promote resources and services that can help increase seniors’ safety and well-being. Elder Abuse networks and organizations strive to mobilize community action and engage people in discussions on how to promote dignity and respect of older adults.

I have written many columns on this subject and every year we put up a display outside our office in the Bay View Mall.  Please stop by and avail yourself of the information flyers or speak to one of the staff about elder abuse.  A couple of weeks ago I had a very interesting gentleman arrange to meet with me because he had a story to tell about ageism and stigma as it relates to elder abuse.  Here is the “Coles Notes” version of our conversation.

Immediately upon settling himself in my office, the gentleman apologized because he had a “speech impediment” but I reassured him this was not an issue to just take his time.  Mr. X proceeded to tell me about how he acquired his verbal communication challenge as a result of the prolonged effects of the anaesthetic administered during surgery.

Mr. X went on to describe an interaction with a healthcare professional that questioned his ability to live independently and perhaps even drive.  He felt he was being stigmatized and treated in a disrespectful manner based on his chronological age and speech.  While Mr. X might have difficulty communicating verbally, he had certainly not lost any of his cognitive abilities and further advised me that he had been a teacher for many years.

The healthcare professional’s treatment of Mr. X is elder abuse.  It is ageism, labelling and exercising confirmation bias because it suited the doctor’s perception of the individual in her office.  Mr. X felt emotionally abused as he was concerned about his drivers licence and his continued ability to live independently.  Thankfully he is a strong person and able to advocate for himself.

Thanks for sharing a very real story Mr. X and I hope people everywhere will better examine their perceptions as they apply to older adults and individuals with communication challenges.  Help us spread the message by wearing purple and speaking out on June 15th.

On June 26th, CCSH will be at the Community booth in the Quinte Mall to host a Stroke Awareness Day from 9:30am-9:00pm.  Their purpose – Raise awareness of stroke signs and symptoms, and reducing the risk factors associated with stroke.  While there is some staff support, the representation of the volunteer stroke survivors and their caregivers is paramount.

It means a lot for these folks to be recognized for their strength and determination in overcoming the effects of a stroke.  They have also stepped out to help educate others and to show their support for others that despite any deficits they can still enjoy a rewarding and happy life.  Their message is that strength and determination are the key factors in overcoming significant adversity.

 

Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of CCSH, 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1.  Please visit our website at https://www.ccsh.ca, or email me at shell-leew@ccsh.ca or check out our CCSH Facebook page, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance.  CCSH is a proud United Way member agency.  Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network.