Last Sunday, I heard a message at church (First AME Pasadena) by my pastor, Rev. Dr. Larry E. Campbell, entitled, “No Innocent Bystanders”. The basic message was that none of us are innocent bystanders when we see others in trouble or being treated wrong. The message, in essence, was that there is callous indifference by many to the treatment of neighbors, friends and family. The Minister mentioned the story of the Good Samaritan and also how people let people get away with selﬁsh behavior and no one ever corrects them. He preached that we as Christians owe it to others to correct bad behavior.
The Pastor quoted Dr. Martin Luther King as saying, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I was moved by the message because of a recent experience I have with someone very close to me. My sister. I have heard and used a similar statement from philosopher Edmund Burke’s quotes and Maxabella Loves who says, “Bad things happen when good people do nothing”.
My personal event came when I traveled to visit my sister who lives in Central California. I walked into her home and found her sitting in a hot house in over 100 degree weather. Though she said she had her swamp cooler serviced, the cooler was blowing hot air into the house. I was highly upset to ﬁnd my sister living like this, especially in her condition. A few years ago she suffered a mild stroke. After that, she had hip replacement surgery. She is also visually impaired and can no longer drive. She will be eighty on her next birthday later this year. She is literally “stuck” in the house unless someone comes by to take her someplace.
I could not understand how she was living in this condition, especially with one of her grown daughters living with her. Then I realized that the daughter leaves every day to work in likely much cooler conditions at her job. I wondered why neither of her two daughters had sought out services available to their mother or taken corrective actions to make her comfortable. I tried to impress upon my sister the seriousness of her situation. We discussed various actions she could take, all which she seemed resistant to. I had to do something. I could not leave her like that. I immediately went out and bought a 12,000 btu air conditioner. I installed it and hooked it up to cool at least that one room in the house where she could sit and be cool.
The next day I called to check in on my sister only to discover that the air conditioner had been unplugged by her daughter the same day it was installed and was not being used. Her daughter unplugged it because her “computer plug was out”. I was more concerned about my sister than a computer plug. I did not want my sister to die because of extremely hot weather. This seemed like a classic case of Elder Abuse to me and needed to be dealt with. I told my sister and that I would be coming back to ﬁ nd out about why the A.C. was not being used, and I sent a message to my niece that if she kept the A.C., off she needed to be reported. When I returned to the house, the house was cool. The swamp cooler only needed a relative minor repair to get going.
I write this out of frustration because my sister believes she must put up with this to keep her daughter there. I feel hurt that her daughter would take advantage of her mother. This brings me back to Dr. King’s statement. I don’t want my life to begin to end because I did nothing in this situation, and so here it is. Let the chips fall where they may. Lord, I have cleared my conscience and have tried to be the Good Samaritan, not a bystander.
Abuse can happen to anyone—no matter the person’s age, sex, race, religion, or ethnic or cultural background. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or ﬁnancially exploited. This is called elder abuse. Abuse can happen in many places, including the older person’s home, a family member’s house, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.
There are many types of abuse:
- Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping.
- Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older person. Keeping that person from seeing close friends and relatives is another form of emotional abuse.
- caregiver does not try to respond to the older person’s needs.
- Abandonment is leaving a senior alone without planning for his or her care.
- Sexual abuse involves a caregiver forcing an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.
- Financial abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen.
- Healthcare fraud can be committed by doctors, hospital staff, and other healthcare workers.
Get Help: Go to https://ncea. acl.gov for more information. Or, call the Eldercare Locator weekdays at 1-800-677-1116. If you think someone is in urgent danger, call 911 or your local police to get help right away.