Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

There's no excuse for elder abuse

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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: That was quite a letter about the woman who says she witnessed elder abuse. (Readers: The tongue lashing had been meted out by a son to his mother. Quoting the letter, the elder had "dedicated her whole life to bringing him up selflessly and to help him achieve success... true guide, friend, philosopher, companion and a perfect critic, as she knew him better than he knew himself.") Yikes! If that is not the well-rehearsed rhetoric of a very dysfunctional mother. Unfortunately, I have a mother who, from her 40s on, exhibited all the same signs of a martyr complex. My mother thought she understood everyone's motivations and the only reason anyone disagreed with her was to "hurt" her. So, perhaps consider that the words of both the mother and the person who wrote are indicative of far deeper problems than the supposed abuse they report.

Finally, there is a difficult time in every caregiver-child's existence when the elder does not want to acknowledge their increasing dependence on the adult child. Often the elder will use the accusation of "abuse" just as a young child (say two to four years old) will likewise speak the words, "No fair," or whatever. Judging situations is something to be referred to a professional psychiatrist/psychologist/social worker in the field of geriatrics. Elder abuse and accusations of elder abuse always have to be evaluated in context of the mental health and stability of the informant. -- Another Side to Consider, Winnipeg

Dear Another Side: The informant was not the mother but another person who witnessed the abuse. Many elders are scared to report anything themselves for fear of abandonment and/or further abuse. Clearly, you relate deeply to your own life with a martyr mom -- a hot button for you. You glossed over the fact this adult son saw the mother "get it" verbally to the point where she sobbed for hours. Martyr or not, this elderly woman should not be verbally pummelled. Sometimes people who have put up with neurotic parents get even with them when they become dependent elders, while others are above that.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm really mad about your take on people who have to use crutches. I had a Jones fracture last year. I ended up in three casts plus a walking boot. I fell four times trying to use crutches and fell trying to walk in the boot cast, too. My fabulous husband rented me a wheelchair. Not everyone can walk in a cast with crutches, you know. -- Ticked Off, Winnipeg

Dear Ticked Off: You were lucky to have a fabulous husband/companion to help you in the wheelchair. It sounds like you had a very bad fracture and perhaps a balance problem on the crutches or your arms were not quite strong enough. Some people learn to walk with their arms held out like a figure skater when they walk on the boot. Most people can walk in crutches or a boot unless the land is unsteady or the weather is wet and/or icy. Sorry about your situation.

Please send your questions or comments c/o lovecoach@hotmail.com or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 D5

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