We are all looking forward to this day on 15 June where we can sensitize and conscientize the younger generation of the contributions and worth of Older Persons within our Society at large. Maybe we should start by making the following observation : We, the Older Persons, are the cream of Society as we protect the inner layers – sometimes undeservedly because people have come to take this role of us for granted. Like cream, we are soft and puncture very easily when pricked or triggered or embarrassed or hurt with bad words but we allow this because of our love for them. Sometimes they bounce against our boundaries without looking back to see whether they hurt us or not but we always endure this in silence. We are so emotionally attached to our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren that we accept our pain and loneliness. All we need, sometimes, is for them to come and spend some quality time with us and show some kind of appreciation to emphasise our worth. We care so much for the education of our children, we care so much for our adult sick children, we care so much for our grandchildren and we support, all the time, our unemployed children and grandchildren.
We are vulnerable and hurt easily although we do not often show our vulnerability. You hurt us so much through physical – , sexual -, psychological – , emotional – , spiritual – , economic – , but, most of all the abuses, you tend to ignore my contributions to a better life for you and you ignore me by locking me up if I do not adhere.Maybe if I explain a few things you might better understand why I am urging you to respect me by not abusing me.
Firstly, I am protected by Act 13/2006 and all its amendments and I could follow this route to challenge you and all that think likewise but, out of love, I write this letter so that you can better understand my affection and protection for you. Clearly Chapter 5 30(2) states : “Any conduct or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress or is likely to cause harm or distress to an older person constitutes abuse of an older person.” You grew up under my value system and one of the fundamentals were always to respect the Elderly. My amazement is why we cannot talk on this basis without shouting at one another.
When I receive my monthly State Pension it is withheld to cover household expenses and I would gladly agree to that but remember you are still living under my roof with the Title Deed still in my possession. When you grew up I never deducted any monies from you while you wanted the best because your friends would make fun of you if you would not adhere to the fashion of the day. Remember : “Depriving an Older Person of any financial resource to which he/she is legally entitled or disposing of any financial or material assets belonginging to an Older Person without his/her consent can be seen as a transgression of the Act that protects my rights. My child, writing this to you, hurts me just as much as you but somewhere we need to draw the line.
Secondly with age comes a lot of other ailments besides the Law that is now bothering you. My body posture changes and I become smaller and shorter, my joints become stiffer due to a reduction of fluids in the joints and the thinning of cartilage, my skin becomes flabby, less elastic, drier and thinner and it definitely leads to wrinkles and baggy skin, my brain, with cell loss become smaller and I tend to forget yesterday but remember 5 years ago and my nerves become unresponsive. Sometimes I am characterised as a “difficult person” but would you not have been like this if you went through all these changes. However, there are mitigating qualities such as wisdom, good judgement and insight which comes with experience and can partially compensate for all or some of my short-comings. My knowledge can be an advantage to you if you allow me into your life. As I mentioned, we are at a day where we can reconcile our differences and celebrate our love for one another. We are never too old to learn as we are all scholars of life-long learning. We only stop learning when we are dead and then I do not want any tears out of regret.
There are signs that will indicate abuse but most importantly : listen to my story, never ignore what I am saying – take it seriously. Furthermore, look for unexplained injuries, cuts, burns, bruises, scratches, welts, broken skin, marks from restraints/trancelike state, dehydration and/or malnutrition not caused by diagnosed illness, dirty/soiled bedding or clothing and depression. If you fail to notice this, you do not care enough to make a difference in my life. Remember also behavioural changes like anxiety in the presence of some persons and withdrawl.
I am allowed certain Human Rights under our Constitution eg. the right to shelter, food and health care. I should be respected, treated with dignity and not be discriminated against on any grounds. Any matter regarding me should be condusive to conciliation and problem solving and not confrontational. If you know that I am getting abused and you do not report this you can become an accomplice in this abuse. (OPA Chapter 5 26(1). You should report this to DSD, SAPS or any NPO working in the field of Elder Abuse
If we have come this far, my child. I would hope that you would understand my concerns and that I write this open letter to you out of love and with a tear shed.
Your Loving Parent
Written by: Vernon Hendricks
021 852 0206