Prevent elder abuse. That’s like saying, Prevent domestic violence. Or prevent child abuse. At first glance, preventing abuse seems an impossible task. But there are steps we can take to prevent elder abuse.
I once knew a kind old woman. Perhaps she wasn’t all that old. But old enough to have a married daughter. And certainly she was old enough to know better. But she didn’t have a clue what was going to happen if she wasn’t careful.
Ageism, like sexism, knows no boundaries. The health system is a prime example of ageism in action.
This week an article in the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight online caught my eye. (‘Polypharmacy a shared duty’, by Charlotte Mitchell.)
The article quotes a recent study in Queensland and Victoria. Subjects were 1220 people over 70. They had been admitted to eleven acute hospitals in a five year period. On admission three quarters of these older patients took five or more drugs a day. More than a fifth were on ten or more.
Karen Hitchcock’s essay Dear Life: On Caring for the Elderly is compassionate, respectful and beautifully written. As a study of ageism in our society, it is also seriously scary.
The author is a physician who works in a major Melbourne hospital. Her patients are mostly elderly. She has a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Writing and is the author of award-winning fiction.