William T. Robinson, Jr

By William T. Robison Jr.

We all must acknowledge that if we are fortunate, we will live a long and productive life and hopefully be taken care of in our old age with the overseeing of our children or closely related family members. In an idealistic world, you would think that the children or family members of elders convalescing or bedridden would prioritize the treatment and care of their loved ones.

It shouldn’t be questionable that convalescing elders receive the best medical attention or assistance as possible. Of course, there are factors that may limit the type or quality of assistance or care an elderly one may receive based on their economical status, basically as it relates to insurance coverage and their financial standing. When all is said and done, many elderly adults fall victim to bureaucratic red tape and sometimes to unlikely family members taking advantage of their fragile and often debilitating condition.

Make no mistake, while most people have their parents’ or loved one’s best interest at heart, there are some family members who may possess ulterior motives, compromising or falling short of providing the best care that their parents or loved ones may deserve. In fact, you would be surprised at the number of families who seek litigation towards a sibling for abusing a parent by manipulating and abusing the parents’ finances (stealing).

There are loving children agonizing and feeling extremely guilty at their inability to spend more time with their ailing elders. This problem is only exacerbated when your location, job, and finances may make it impossible or taxing concerning the amount of time you can personally spend with your ailing loved one. This is especially problematic when you have no sibling or close relative to aide you in planning and providing for the care of an ailing or bed ridden parent.

Big families often share with the care of a parent or are often fortunate enough to have a sibling in a position to give around the clock care with the help or aide of available home care services. This can be a blessing or a setup for chaos. Either you have dedicated, loving sibling providers—or providers seeking to take advantage of the physical and financial condition of the elder.

Elderly abuse can take place in convalescing or nursing homes by overworked or uncaring employees, especially if the family is not cognizant of the daily progress of their loved ones. This is prevalent with elders whose children or families are in other cities or states. But what may be more alarming is a sibling from a large family taking care of a parent and using that position of authority to intentionally ostracize the other siblings from the parent. This occurs when the parent is told the other family members don’t care about them, i.e., they would visit more if they did—or that if it weren’t for them, the parent would be relegated to a nursing facility. This ‘I’m the only one that care about you’ is often a calculated manipulation by a self-serving caretaker with ulterior motives.

Constantly pressuring the parent concerning what is done as the primary caretaker and what your sibling/siblings or other family members aren’t doing is a modus operandi towards putting oneself into a position to gain control of the parent’s favor and finances (bank account, property, or etc.). By the time some family members find out what is truly taking place, the caretaker has significantly used the elder’s monies from their bank account and may have even manipulated the elder into changing their will, making a calculating caretaker the conservator of their will.

There are some cases where a deceitful caretaker or a family member is so treacherous and callous that they may deny the ailing elder critical medical attention (not taking them to the hospital), precipitating their death (presumably) out of greed. Sad as it may be, there are some people who feel that some people take too long to die.

We must be more aware of the mental and physical abuse taking place by supposedly trusted and reliable health care providers, especially among family members. This abuse is criminal and needs to be reported and investigated when suspected. It may consist of not taking care of the patient’s medical and physical needs, making sure they receive their meds, are clean, fed, physically and mentally stimulated, and changed when needed. Another sign of abuse is when a caretaker takes advantage of a disabled elder when the elder is in a sedated, confused, or comatose state, having him or her sign or convert things over to benefit the caretaker or a designated individual.

Often, we wait until to it is too late to truly address suspected abuses because we don’t want to believe that those caring for our loved ones are capable of such treacherous and malicious actions often fueled by greed. The allegations or proof of elderly abuse especially by a sibling have isolated or destroyed the closeness of many families. Elderly abuse is more prevalent than we realize.

We must remember that those we love will eventually grow old and probably reach a point where they need our supervision and guidance in providing them the proper care and love that they gave us while growing up. It’s never too early to plan for taking care of the ones you love when they are no longer able to provide for themselves. Vigilant overseeing of their care and progress should be a priority. The family as a whole must also be cognizant of the handling of their debilitated loves one’s finances, for it is paramount to avoiding abuse by others you wouldn’t ordinarily suspect.

A truly loving caretaker is a blessing from God. I cannot thank my brother, Marcus, enough for dedicating his life to making sure my mother wanted for nothing during her extended illness leading to her transition.

This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride. 

COMMENTARY: Elderly Abuse

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