The facts behind awareness days

June 11th, I was told,  is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ( www.sthildas.org.uk ) .

I was at St Hilda’s East Community Centre for a management meeting last night, and we signed off a set of their regular policies. Their Adult Protection Policy and Procedure was one of them. It told me things I would rather not know  – but ought to know.

My experience of others’ old age has been kindly. But there’s another side and it justifies the establishment of an Awareness Day.  The St Hilda’s document lists different categories of abuse that old people can encounter –

Physical abuse; Psychological abuse; Institutional abuse, Sexual abuse, Financial abuse. Deprivation or Neglect, which ‘ can include careless or deliberate witholding or inadequate provision of food, withholding assistance to use the toilet, keep clean, warm and comfortable: or the isolation or seclusion of the individual against their will (including control of access by telephone or post). It may include witholding the right to independent decision-making or action and the the enforcement of inappropriate, unnecessary dependence’.

This is a shocking list, and backs up the calls to have much greater knowledge about what takes place in far too many care homes. Or even family homes.

And dementia

The King’s Fund’s recent report signalled the growth of dementia. Now that the population is ageing (the fastest growing group are the over-80s) they estimate that the number of dementia-sufferers will increase by 61% – to more than 1.1million – by 2016.

There are steps that we can take to hold it off – exercises that keep the mind active and agile. My most impressive 90 year old friend (see Left, below) is a fiend at Sudoku, even though she admits with a disarming smile, that she cheats.

Peggy Crawford, with Zen teacher, Genno Roshi

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