In Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” there is a sign next to the entrance to hell which reads, “abandon all hope, you who enter here.” This sign could well be put outside the door of every institution and home where there is elder abuse.
The Council on Aging statistics show that roughly 2.5 million elders are abused each year, 66 percent of them abused by their adult children. Such is the case of a dear friend and church member whom I have not seen in more than a year and a half because the person’s adult child is preventing me and the person’s siblings, friends and church members from having any contact.
My friend, after an illness, went to live with this child in another county. At first, all of us who knew them were allowed to visit and to take the person out for church or meals. Soon, however, this changed, and my friend reported the abuse to us. We made calls to Adult Protective Services, the police and, finally, the county attorney. Sad to say, all of these reports received no support.
Our friend remains in the adult child’s home, unable to have any contact with any of us. I share this story as a cautionary tale for all elders. I hope they will make sure they know their adult children’s intentions to show them the respect and loving care the elders deserve.
Fr. Dennis D. Knight