Letters to the Editor

Elder abuse

May 10, 2009


To the editor:

On Mother’s Day, we honor and remember our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. One of the harsh realities of growing older in the United States is the unprecedented number of older adults affected by elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. It has been estimated that between 500,000 and 5 million elders have been forced to cope with some form of elder abuse, be it physical, mental or financial. Two-thirds of the victims are women.

The estimation of 500,000 to 5 million may sound like a wide variance with a huge gray area, but therein lies a major part of the problem. Many cases aren’t reported, often due to shame or as a result of the victim’s fear of losing care because their caregiver may be the abuser. This issue is a growing concern that has been ignored by Washington for far too long; to this day there still isn’t a single federal law to comprehensively address elder abuse.

Older Women’s League (OWL) highlighted the issue of violence against older women 15 years ago, fighting for legislation ever since. In 2009, OWL is teaming up with the Elder Justice Coalition and the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. OWL has developed a thorough report titled “Elder Abuse: A Women’s Issue,” focusing on all aspects of elder abuse. It is time to stop elder abuse; women will not sit idly by and watch their mothers and grandmothers become victims in the twilight of their lives.

Sigurdson is president of the Kaw Valley Older Women’s League. She is from Lawrence.


Sharon Aikins 8 years, 9 months ago

Sad that an issue like this draws no comment. Maybe it's because this isn't a joking matter. The abuse of anyone for any reason should be intolerable. Those unable to care for themselves deserve some respect from those who care for them. They may not always be the most pleasant to deal with but then, who is all the time? If you're going to be a caregiver to the elderly, have some compassion, patience and empathy. That will be us all someday.

begin60 8 years, 9 months ago

What a socially responsible way to wish the world "Happy Mother's Day"! I greatly admire Ms. Sigurdson's timely letter about the widespread problem of elder abuse.

With elders it can be even more important than it always is when dealing with complex, feeling human beings to respect the difference between pity and compassion or pity and love. Pity is an offensive, insincere form of compassion that involves treating other people as one-dimensional stereotypes based mindlessly off first impressions. Despite how you might of been brought up to approach strangers on this basis, such behavior merely sanctifies offensive hierarchies, invoking a twisted power relation between higher and lower, stronger and weaker. Please do not disrespectfully approach strangers in public in this terrorizing, presumptuous manner of false concern. How do you think they got where they are? Respect their independence and dignity, people.

I'm not a crone yet, but do get very offended by all those who seem to value brawn over brains and beauty in this town.You charmers really have an eye for the strengths of others and want to give them that extra vote of confidence, right? It's simply ignorant and uneducated to violate strangers' boundaries like this. You need help with your reasoning skills if you see no problem with "helping" others in this politically incorrect, redneck manner. Spare others your bigoted assumptions and fake, offensive forms of caring and self-important "helping."

You are creating a hostile environment by responding to strangers like Pavlovian dogs on the basis of mindless stereotypes. This type of politically incorrect behavior is not worthy of a college town. Do not try to patronize with condescending "help" those who scored twice as high on their college entrance exams as you. They just might remind you that you seem to need help with your brain and judgment.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

begin60 You do not have both oars in the water I do not understand your attidude at all. Instead of simply ranting and raving I wish you would give us a specific incident where someone tried to help you and you were offended. You might try thinking about other peoples feelings now and again. It just might be someone whose only motive is to be helpful, but after being called on the carpet by you, they might think twice the next time. It seems to be you have put this same exact post on here at last a dozen time. Let it go. No one needs to feel ashamed if they need help, or if they offer it.

RoeDapple 8 years, 9 months ago

begin60 Where do you come from that is so much better than here, and why don't you go back?

begin60 8 years, 9 months ago

Like all humans perceived to be vulnerable or powerless our precious, wise elders deserve respect.

Confusing pity with love or compassion is incredibly insincere and disrespectful. Moreover, it is no minor moral failing. Great thinkers and poets throughout history have counted this among the majors cause of war.

Too many people around KS and MO try to relieve themselves of unnecessary thought processes by mindlessly reacting to others in terms of offensive stereotypes. This is morally and legally wrong. If you are the presumptuous type who bothers strangers off the streets with insulting offers of "help" on the basis of bigoted, self-serving prejudices you are scaring people and deeply damaging them---as well as suggesting whitestream, redneck ignorance should prevail in the world over intelligence and sensitivity. Since you are expressing pity not love, you should definitely feel guilty and ashamed of yourself and probably would if you didn't totally lack a developed moral consciousness.

In order to live peaceably together we need to respect reasonable boundaries and privacy and not impose uneducated attitudes on others. Please show some respect and self-restraint in the way you approach people you don't know.

RoeDapple 8 years, 9 months ago

And, as I am of the age some consider elderly, I don't think anyone deserves respect, it must be earned.

You might get your broom a tune-up. Then fly away......

Christine Anderson 8 years, 9 months ago

So, are you saying that if I should witness an elderly person struggling in public, let's say, having medical problems that I CAN offer first responder help with, I'm supposed to turn my back and walk away out of respect? What planet are you from? I am ethically and legally required to stop and offer assistance. As always, the person is free to decline, regardless of their age, and I would not be offended. Several years ago, I saw an elderly lady leaning up against the wall outside Food-4-Less. It was clear she was suffering from heat exhaustion. I started to leave, and then a voice(no, not audible) said, "Get your ass back there." I did, and the lady was close to collapsing from the heat and humidity. I took her back inside the store, had them bring water to pour on her and to give her some to drink, and call 911. Turns out she had recently been hospitalized for heart problems, and needed help. Begin60, are you saying this is the type of help which is shameful and offensive? I was taught by my mother and my professional instructors NOT to ignore someone in need. Geez, if my own mom should ever be out somewhere and be in genuine need of help. I sure hope there's someone other than you around.

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