They came well prepared, with a power point presentation, statistics, and handouts containing written information, resources and contacts. Elder financial abuse is a growing problem. Most perpetrators have a close relationship to the victim. Besides financial abuse, lonely, often dependent and confused, elders suffer physical assault, constraint or deprivation, neglect, over and under medication, and abandonment.
Elders may become neglectful of personal hygiene, malnourished or dehydrated. Memory loss, fear of loss of independence, feelings of shame and embarrassment, and dependence on the perpetrator(s) lead to underreporting of these crimes.
Our discussion included the argument for not isolating populations by age. Contemporary American lifestyles tend to group small children with each other, youth with youth, and elders with elders. We are better served when communities are age-integrated.
For Pagan readers of this blog, I quote the definition of clergy for mandated reporting:
"Clergy member" means priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church, synagogue, temple, mosque, or recognized religious denomination or organization.I leave it to the individual Pagan to decide in what capacity she or he is functioning. Local and regional resources and more detailed information, by state, about elder abuse and reporting at the National Center on Elder Abuse.
"Clergy member" does not include unpaid volunteers who periodically visit elder or dependent adults, unless their main occupation or vocation involves active or ordained ministry.
If there is one thing I want Pagans to take away from this is the knowledge that if we encounter anything resembling elder abuse, we are mandated reporters. Most of you probably know we are mandated reporters for suspected child abuse, but the law requiring 'clergy' to report suspected elder abuse is recent. So now you know. May you never have to do it.