An invisible reality?

The abuse of older people is a reality, but not always a visible reality. It is not a new problem, though the vast majority of cases (some studies indicate that between five and seven out of eight), remain unreported. Most are hidden situations that rarely come out for various reasons. Some are as obvious as that, from a certain age, a person loses visibility and, as acknowledged by the consultant psychiatrist, author of The Safe Zone, Maribel Maseda, “it would appear that, unable to follow the pace set by society, the elderly end up losing their place in it. The problem continues with forgetfulness, the inability to stay close to our seniors, or the ill-preparedness to meet their needs”. She believes that it is shameful the figure of over 300,000 abused elders. More so because these numbers   will continue to grow, ” a proof of the loss and deterioration of values in perpetrators of any type of violence on them. The elders will abstain from complaining for fear of  loneliness or through loyalty to the perpetrators when they are close relatives, or maybe because the disease does not allow them to communicate fluently about their predicament.

How to prevent the abuse of elders

Finding a solution to these situations is very complicated, but not impossible. Preventing them needs the involvement of social institutions, the professionals who are closer to the elderly, the family and of society at large. Everyone must  be able to do “a job capable of generating spaces for for the elders and more and better inclusion and participation for them in society, giving them the rightful place they deserve for their experience. If we put this belief into action, the elderly will improve their self-respect, their mood, their hope and their quality of life, “says Maseda.

A situation before which the government must act. How? “Developing and disseminating awareness programs, and programs about acceptance and inclusion of old age as a fundamental asset for a quality society ,” said Maseda, for whom, it is also necessary to set time for an effective communication with the elders, so that they should have a safe and effective way to tell about their situation.

How to deal with a case of abuse

Once a case of abuse has been detected something has to be done. At that moment, the priority is the safety of the victim.

Maribel Maseda believes that in these circumstances the victim is not always treated as such. “Again, surely, the trouble starts as we try to communicate with them, because we have not learnt to communicate properly with the elderly”. The psychologist believes it is necessary for the abused to find a safe environment in which  ” confidence can be restored as well as the certainty  that their rights are kept intact by virtue of being a person, that is, that they have not been ignored just because they are old or retired.

How to deal with a case of abuse

Once a case of abuse has been detected something has to be done. At that moment, the priority is the safety of the victim.

Maribel Maseda believes that in these circumstances the victim is not always treated as such. “Again, surely, the trouble starts as we try to communicate with them, because we have not learnt to communicate properly with the elderly”. The psychologist believes it is necessary for the abused to find a safe environment in which  ” confidence can be restored as well as the certainty  that their rights are kept intact by virtue of being a person, that is, that they have not been ignored just because they are old or retired.

 

Translated by Arturo Guillén