Neglect an insidious form of elder abuse
The State Journal has brought to our attention the plight of older persons who suffer, many silently, from abuse. Statistics tell less than half the story. We can count events, financial abuse, physical abuse and cases of neglect when the consequences include serious losses or even death.
We should applaud efforts by advocates to increase government resources and raise public awareness of abuse, and the extent to which our governments -- local, state and federal -- are responsive.
Journal reporter Dean Mosiman's excellent articles on Sunday provided disheartening information about not only the reported frequency of abuse, but also the fact that resources needed to combat this social disease are inadequate.
However, readers should be aware of an insidious fact: Neglect is abuse. Adult children, neighbors and concerned citizens can act to relieve neglect.
For the elder living alone, neglect is often more abusive to the soul and spirit of the forgotten person than overt acts of abuse. Feeling neglected is a chronic condition, but one that can be overcome by frequent visits, phone calls or a ride to one without the means to get about.
As winter arrives, it is important for children and neighbors to invest their concern and be the solution to a vulnerable person's neglect.
-- James T. Sykes, former chairman, Wisconsin Board on Aging and Dane County Board of Public Welfare; senior adviser, aging policy department, UW-Madison Population Health Sciences
SOURCE: Wisconsin State Journal
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