Editorial: Who would do that?

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014

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OPINION: It's hard to get your head around the growing issue of elder abuse.

I mean, who would do that?

Quite a few people, it seems, and while the number of instances might not necessarily be growing, awareness of them is.

In South Canterbury the agency that deals with this comes across one serious case a week. It will be the tip of the iceberg.

The motivation - money, power, because they can.

The abusers - family members, sadly, neighbours, friends, trusted advisers.

What a way to spend your last days. As pointed out in our story today, living in fear and isolation, with self-neglect and deep mistrust of people in general.

It should disgust us as much as child abuse does. How would we react if there was a serious case of child abuse each week? Heck, maybe there is, and we just don't know.

Elder abuse will not be a new thing, but it's likely to be more prevalent than it once was.

The family unit has changed, as have societal values. Less time to look after aging parents, or at least that perception; more adult children living away from "home"; fewer children generally to share the caring; electronic banking that makes financial abuse easier.

But none is good enough.

Sure, this is the negative view, because most people will still take good care of the elderly around them, but this shouldn't be happening at all.

Our elderly people should be cared for and appreciated. It's a sick world when people are doing the opposite. So if we have any inkling of it, we should speak up.

Bottom line - we're all going to be old one day.

Another thing: It's hard to know how much to read into polls, and I've always been cynical of the wording of questions and how much thought people actually give to their answers.

Take the political poll results we carried yesterday. Sure, I can fully understand that people might not "like" certain politicians, probably (hopefully) because they simply have different beliefs.

Yet high numbers of us actually don't "trust" them, which means we must think them liars or crooks. Really? Or because we didn't "like" them in question one, did it seem natural to also not "trust" them.

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- The Timaru Herald

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