by Gunta Krumins
Elder Abuse doesn’t take different forms such as physical, negligence, or financial. Elder Abuse actually begins with Emotional Abuse and culminates into Elder Abuse. It involves individuals that pretend to have our elders’ best interests at heart but instead, use this pretense to conceal their real motives: to victimize them without shame, guilt or conscience. They can be either a family member or caregiver who wouldn’t be suspected because of the very nature of their relationship to the elder or someone new in the elder’s life who works quickly and guilefully to move in on the elder with a hidden agenda. And it is because they are perceived to be persons-of-trust to the elder and the family, that their actions and their crimes are ignored. In fact, Elder Abuse is about a crime committed by a skillful manipulator who has no regard for anyone but themselves, family included.
The perception that these perpetrators all leave is that they are caring, doting and extremely attentive to the elder’s every need. Instead, they are very calculating and purposeful in nature and quite detached in their manner with everyone, including the victim. You will never find them, for example, hugging the elder nor having a conversation with them but rather hovering around the elder, scolding or reprimanding them for not doing as they are told while seemingly doing it out of concern for their well-being. What no one will suspect, but the elder will feel, is a constant pressure to accept, without question or any objection, whatever this person does for them or wants them to do.
With regards to their strategy, Elder Abuse involves a person manipulating the elder and everyone close or related to them in so many different ways in order to cover up what they are actually up to. First they work quickly to secure a strong bond of trust with the elder while they go about isolating them from family and friends by breaking up those relationships. Once they’ve done that, the perpetrators begin to use other methods on the elder to 1) maintain and keep stricter control of the elder and/or 2) to take advantage of them in other ways i.e. sexually or financially. What no one realizes is that the elder is enduring, at pressure cooker intensity, 24/7 assault on all of their senses. They are being physically abused (punched, grabbed, slapped, etc), their (medical, hygienic, etc.) needs are being purposely neglected and the psychological abuse is an ongoing, unrelenting stream of baseless criticism, accusations and blame. The assault, over time, renders them weak, confused, stressed, and guilt-ridden. If they receive no help, they will perish and their death will be attributed to natural causes. The perpetrator will oftentimes go free.
If we want to stop these offenders, acquiring knowledge and awareness of what Emotional Abuse is and understanding what role it plays in the crime of Elder Abuse is vital. It’s all about knowing the difference between a healthy and an abusive relationship in order to be able to spot perpetrators of Elder Abuse. At the moment, Elder Abuse is a widespread illegal activity that is being ignored and it is becoming an epidemic. What happens to an elder is nothing that they should be ashamed of or fear reporting. We, as a community, have to come together to help our elders. We have to show them our support. It means trusting our instincts when we sense that something is not quite as it seems and then following through with very deliberate actions. We can’t keep walking away from our elders who are in trouble. They need our help.
To report Elder Abuser, contact your local police department or your nearest Elder Abuse Center for further assistance.
Gunta Krumins, B.A., P.M.P., is a credentialed high-level project manager with experience mainly in the nonprofit sector. An expert in the field of Emotional Abuse and Elder Abuse, Krumins wrote the book “The Detrimental Effects of Emotional Abuse” to fight for the rights of victims of abuse and to put an end to the cycle of abuse. For more information, please visit guntakrumins.tumblr.com.