Editorial – Seniors deserve our respect

There is a misconception of seniors as people who have lost the ability to make their own decisions

There are more than 5,000 seniors in the Greater Victoria area who may have been victims of abuse. It’s a shameful statistic and one that deserves our attention.

A good start would be to dispel the myths surrounding the issue.

The most dangerous of these myths would have us identify “stranger danger” as the main problem. It’s somehow easier to assume that senior abuse is primarily economic and that the problem rests with dishonest tradesmen, con artists and other outsiders who prey on the elderly. It’s the same sort of fuzzy thinking that for years, had us looking out for strangers as the culprits behind child abuse. The disturbing truth is that the vast majority of abuse for both seniors and children arises from individuals whom they know, love and trust.

That raises the uncomfortable question of why people who are close to seniors might become abusers.

In part, it appears that it’s based on a misconception of seniors as people who have lost the ability to make their own decisions or comprehend what’s going on around them. That infantilizing is insidious, yet it’s propagated even within mainstream media. One well-known series of commercials features two elderly men so befuddled with the world that, they question the day of the week when they see a bank open on a Sunday, for example.

While some seniors do have a loss of cognitive skills, the vast majority do not. They may slow down physically, and they may process information at a slightly different rate, but they do not lose the right to self-determination. When friends, family and loved ones begin to take away the right to make decisions about finances, relationships, diet, travel – the basics of life – the cycle of abuse can begin.

It’s a complex issue, but the answers can’t be found in the the duplication of programs designed to halt child abuse. Seniors are not children or even child-like. Perhaps that realization is the first step to addressing the harm to which some of them are subjected.

Just Posted

Esquimalt speed skating week helps province determine find fastest skater

Speed Week takes place on Dec. 17 at Archie Browning arena

Longtime Saanich drama group brings pirates onstage for traditional Christmas pantomime

St. Luke’s Players present Treasure Island Dec. 18 to Jan. 4

Goldstream church offers free festive feast

Gordon United Church says all are welcome to attend Monday’s meal

Sex workers march in downtown Victoria for Red Umbrella Day

Red umbrellas became a symbol of sex workers after an art installation in Italy

MLA Adam Olsen calls for ‘substantial’ changes in provincial economy

Green Party MLA also criticizes gap between government rhetoric and actions

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read