Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Readers write about good neighbours, and the hidden tragedy of elder abuse.

Dear Editor,

As a relatively new citizen in the communities of Ashcroft and Cache Creek, I have had the opportunity to make some observations in the past few months.

First, I would like to note that out of ashes there is beauty in the hills again, and isn’t it wonderful to take a moment and take that in. In fact, it is important to do this, to keep everything in perspective. We have endured so much in the past year. Cache Creek is experiencing floods again, and once again showing the strength and spirit that can be seen in small town B.C.

We rally together, we support each other, we laugh and cry together, and the bonds of being a part of our two communities and our outer areas only strengthen.

This was seen once again when we were filling sandbags on Saturday, April 28. Where else do you see two Village councillors come to the aid of the neighbouring Village to help with the response to flooding and helping with sandbags?

Barb Roden and Doreen Lambert were both at the Cache Creek Fire Hall with many of us, just pitching in and ensuring that Cache Creek felt supported. It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing, so kudos to them!

As a member of both communities I couldn’t be more proud!

Kathleen Thain

Ashcroft, B.C.

Dear Editor,

Re: Elder abuse. It is a topic frequently in the news, as it has received widespread attention.

For some of us the subject seems remote. Perhaps people can’t imagine a time when they will come of age and require the special services and environment that seniors require to live out the remainder of their lives in relative comfort and ease.

The subject is broad. There are so many aspects of what we call “elder abuse”. Very often the term is used in conjunction with money matters: estates, wills, and so on.

Sometimes we hear of ugly cases of elder abuse in the very facilities that are designed to care for the most vulnerable among us. Sometimes it is simply a matter of children wresting their parents’ estate away from them to make it their own.

On rare occasions we read and hear of murders committed; mysterious deaths which the news doesn’t cover comprehensively. The deaths remain mysterious.

Sometimes it is a just a matter of grandparents having to raise their grandchildren because their sons and daughters are addicts.

The latter situation is far more extensive than most people realize. I know of several such cases, one of which was in my own family.

We read of addiction in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. We know that addiction today is affecting millions of families both on this continent and abroad. It is, in fact, endemic. It affects families that are affluent, middle class, working class, and working poor, and those who depend on welfare to sustain them.

Sometimes, elder abuse is inflicted on elders by elders. We read of shocking cases. But there are other cases that are less dramatic, but are widespread nonetheless.

What are these, you may ask? Most often it is verbal abuse. Cursing, in a manner that seems threatening. It can come out of the blue from people who seem, outwardly, not much different than you or I.

Perhaps it is a result of a mental condition such as bipolar disorder. Perhaps it is simply cultural. It may stem from a person’s childhood background, where communication between family members was, to put it mildly, rough or confrontational. And when people age, they carry this kind of communication with them for the rest of their lives.

I have friends and a sister-in-law who worked with the elderly in both extended care facilities and as care workers. They tell me that elder abuse among the elderly is commonly dealt with by trained professionals. Yet even trained professionals can be shocked by a patient who calls them something they would never have expected. Dementia and degrees of dementia can prompt this kind of thing. On the other hand, even outside of care facilities, there is behaviour that prompts a call to the police, or a warning from the Board that foul language is not permitted, and that it could lead to eviction.

In any event, we all need protection; even protection from ourselves. As a journalist, I think that the time has come to bring elder abuse out of the closet. It is time to look at it, acknowledge it, and deal with it.

Elder abuse isn’t going away. It is growing with every decade in a society that is aging faster than most of us realize.

Esther Darlington

Ashcroft, B.C.


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