Elder abuse is a problem that is frequently ignored, but sadly older people who are badly treated by their adult children are not alone. If you are being abused by your adult children, then there are telephone hotlines and support systems across the country to help you, so take action immediately to keep the problem from getting worse. It may seem difficult to speak out, but no one should have to suffer abuse.
Tell your child how their behavior is affecting you. Some adult children deliberately abuse their parents and, if that is the case, then you should avoid this step. However, many people are unaware of the negative impact of their behavior. Raise the issue in a non-confrontational manner as soon possible. Avoid using accusatory statements such as, "You are a bad person and do bad things," and instead tell them how their behavior makes you feel, such as, "It makes me feel very sad and unhappy when you speak to me like that."
Tell a trusted person what is happening to you. People who are being abused often feel powerless to help themselves and confiding in someone else is the first step for getting help. If you have a close friend or another member of the family, or if a member of the clergy or a healthcare worker visits you regularly, tell them about your adult child's behavior and ask them to help you. If you do not have visitors or your abuser does not leave you alone in the house with other people, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your physician where you will get a chance to be alone with her. He or she has a duty to report abuse and help you.
If you are in immediate physical danger, contact the police. If you are suffering long-term abuse, contact the Eldercare locator at 1-800-677-1116. No one has to put up with abuse and, even if it is your own children who are abusing you, still have a right to be protected. Each state has different support systems but contacting the national Eldercare locator number will put you in touch with the appropriate authorities in your area who can help you.
Mary Stewart has been a news and features journalist since 2000. Her work has appeared in U.K. national newspapers and magazines, including "The Times (of London)," "The Sunday Telegraph," "The Mail on Sunday" and "The Guardian". She has a B.A. in journalism from Napier University.
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