Goodness abounds, yes, it does.
We don’t hear or read about it enough but trust me, hatred and evil have got nothing on goodness and kindness in our world.
It has been said that it is the horrific stories that make headlines and quite frankly, that is true. Newspapers, magazines, television and social media news outlets clamber after Breaking News in their attempts to be the first to offer their take on ongoing incidents. Clamber means to “climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way.” Can’t you visualize hungry journalists doing just that: pushing others out of the way, pulling yet others down in their singular effort to be first?
I am all for free journalism; without it I would not be writing this 990th post, so bring it on in all its raging color…however, wouldn’t it be rewarding to have our day interrupted by Breaking News that reports on the good and kind incidents that occur as well?
All right, I’ll do just that. Allow me to introduce you to two wonderful souls who have brought light into the darkness. This is Breaking News of the very best kind.
Sophie Andrews is a person who learned the hard way – one of the hardest – that The best way to help is often just to listen. Sophie was on death’s door – you have to listen to the 14-minute TED talk to learn of the details when a volunteer at UK’s Samaritan helpline picked up the phone and changed 14-year old Sophie’s life forever. Years later, Sophie gave back and paid it forward by starting a helpline for some of the most vulnerable human beings in society who are lonely and without access or means for socialization. Her Silver Line fields more than 1500 calls a day, making the lives of more than 550,000 UK senior citizens brighter, fuller and healthier each year.
Dixon Chibanda, one of 12 psychiatrists in the entire country of Zimbabwe – a country of 16 million people – created a program to treat individuals in need of psychiatric or psychological counseling: The friendship bench program – or why I train grandmothers to treat depression. This program was birthed when a desperate young woman didn’t have the minimal bus fare needed to commute the 15 kilometers to meet with him in person and who suffered the tragic consequences. Dr. Chibanda created a program that brings care and hope to those in need powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. Sitting on a bench, talking to someone who listens without judgment serves to make a difference in the mental health of thousands across his country and other countries as well – including the United States where a similar program has been started. Please take 12 additional minutes out of your day and listen to the TED talk I have linked above.
Listening – a free resource that is oftentimes not employed when needed the most; listening that actively tunes into the person speaking.
If you are someone who sets resolutions or intentions for the new year, perhaps practicing the art of listening might be at the top of your 2019 list.
I know it is on mine.
Kind of like the movie “Network” in the iconic scene where the actor Peter Finch, as Howard Beale, says, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more!”
What is often left out from that quote is the statement made just prior, “I’m a human being. My life has value.” I think some spouses in their 50’s through their 80’s decide that after decades of a somewhat dissatisfying, or perhaps an abusive, marriage they realize that they have a whole lifetime ahead of them and decide that they deserve better. In an article from the AARP June 2012 Bulletin, one of the reasons for a late-in-life divorce centers around the fact that longer lives mean more years with an incompatible spouse. And even though the overall divorce rate in the United States has decreased since 1990, it has doubled for those over age 50.
Jay Lebow, a psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University says, “If late-life divorce were a disease, it would be an epidemic.”
Wow!!!! I had no idea! I’m fortunate in that my second marriage at the age of 47 is still one in which I am very happy now twelve years later. There are those, however, with whom I am acquainted who stick to the dictum of “in sickness and in health, until death do us part” even through an abusive relationship (verbal, physical or otherwise) and, because they’ve been in it for the long haul, e.g., 30 plus years, they feel that they have no choice but to stay.
Why do those with abusive spouses – both male and female – cling to their marriage?
As I mentioned above – one reason is certainly the commitment to vows that were made at the height of a romantic relationship. And there are other reasons. An excellent therapist with whom I am acquainted who leads support groups for the abused told me that over the years, as abuse has prevailed in the household, the one being abused adjusts to each added level or intensity of abuse and becomes acclimated to each added degree. Added to this unwarranted commitment to their abusive spouse, they fear the unknown, even though it may bring about an abuse-free life. And without the help of good friends and powerful resources, a spouse in an abusive relationship may not have the tools that will give them sufficient confidence to make a decision that will benefit them the remainder of their life.
Divorcing later in life can often result in less time to recover financially, recoup losses, retire debt, and ride the ups and downs of the economy.
Some Baby Boomers out there have relished the security that their spouse or significant other has provided them in the form of financial stability. They’re thinking that perhaps it’s worth putting up with this person with whom I am incompatible to guarantee a comfortable enough life until one of us dies. Well – certainly that is a factor – but I personally believe that an individual’s life contains far more value than any bank account can provide. If someone is feeling devalued in their relationship, they have short-changed the remainder of their life. And if someone truly craves, absolutely longs for greater self-worth, nothing will stop them from satisfying that need. I guess you have to look at the options and determine if you’re willing to go with it:
living in a mortgage-free home without financial concerns with someone who tears you down, or renting a one-bedroom apartment with thrift store furnishings, that frees you from a relationship that has prevented you from being your true, and valued self.
But who will take care of me in my old age?
A 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP survey found that 66% of caregivers were female, with women providing on average 22 hours per week vs. 17 hours for males. In a divorce situation, “older men may make out better financially than women, but they don’t fare so well at finding someone to take care of them when they’re older. They often don’t have alternative care networks the way women do,” says Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. When asked who they will turn to when they’re older, single men often cite paid help – a pricey and somewhat difficult option to find. Some older divorced people have children or other family members who can assume the caregiving role, but not everyone does.
Gray divorce is occurring and there are certainly many factors to consider. I guess I’m of the belief that a bad marriage is not better than living alone. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer – or of any other generational group – only you can decide what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to obtain your sense of personal value. As far as I know, we’ve only been given this one life. This is not a dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs.
In yesterday’s post, a Seattle Police Detective defined elder abuse as:
- sexual abuse
- physical abuse
- financial exploitation
In Part 6 of Seniors for Sale: Placement perils and successes, Michael Berens, Seattle Times reporter, delves into the senior housing placement industry, focusing on one placement company that placed a client in a Tacoma-area Adult Family Home (AFH) with a history of safety and health violations – elder abuse – even a fatal event, but because the placement company had not done its research, it was not aware of the home’s previous infractions and kept placing unknowing vulnerable adults in the home’s care.
Many of these placement service companies operate state-wide and/or nation-wide, and believe that there is no way that they can help as many people as they do if they are required to visit each and every home/assisted living option available to the public that they are trying to assist. These companies are oftentimes characterized as Bed Brokers – an industry that is growing exponentially without much scrutiny or State controls.
CAVEAT: Just as in every assisted living situation – there are good senior housing options and there are bad senior housing options – so too there exist reputable senior placement companies, and not-so-reputable placement companies.
I personally think that these companies can be helpful to those looking for a senior housing option that suits their, or their loved one’s, needs. I caution those using these agencies, however, to understand that not every option out there is listed with placement companies. If a senior housing company does not choose to be listed with a placement service company, that option will not be offered, even if that particular housing option might be the very best choice for some families: cost-wise, location-wise, and even service-wise.
In a news update, Michael Berens’ article, State gets tough on referrals for elder care, we see that attention is now being directed at these placement referral companies in the hopes that those they serve – vulnerable adults in need of some sort of daily care – are protected from those companies who are simply aiming to make a profit at the most vulnerable time in an elder’s life.
As I mentioned in previous articles found in my blog category, Senior Housing, there are numerous resources available for those looking for senior housing for themselves or a family member. Please go to that category and type in a search term in the space located on the right-hand side of the page to find the topic that interests you most.
Part 5, of Seniors for Sale: Hiding Harm: the human toll, is one example of the lack of reporting that goes on in some assisted living residential settings – in this case – an Adult Family Home (AFH).
When you watch the video link above, you’ll be shocked at how a particular accident happened – and its after effects on the victim – and you’ll be horrified at how long it took before it was reported to the police.
Perhaps this statistic will provide a partial explanation:
only 16% of all incidents of elder abuse are reported.
Not only are many caregivers not reporting incidents of abuse that occur; surprisingly, family members fail to get beyond the denial stage when they discover that their loved one just might be in danger in the very location entrusted to his/her care. They can’t believe that the caregiving solution they found for their loved one has turned out to be disastrous in every way.
The police investigator for this case states the following:
We don’t tolerate domestic violence, but that’s not always the case with elder abuse.
The final episode of Seniors for Sale will be submitted tomorrow, Saturday.
My local newspaper ran an investigative report about the Adult Family Home (AFH) industry in Washington State. Depending upon where you live, a similar assisted living home may be called a Group Home.
In Washington State, no more than 6 residents can live in an Adult Family Home. These “businesses” popped up all over Washington State over the past several years as entrepreneurs realized how much money they could make taking in residents and charging thousands for rent and resident care. At this writing, there are close to 2,900 AFHs in the state. Since 2010, 446 of those were cited for violations of health or safety standards. Caveat: there are many Adult Family Homes that are doing an extraordinary job, but it’s the bad ones that make the Headlines and that’s the way it should be.
June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. I thought it appropriate to provide Michael Berens’ series, “Seniors for Sale” in six parts this week, but I provide it with a warning that this Pulitzer Prize winning expose can be very difficult to read, and watch. Nevertheless, awareness is key, so I hope all will benefit from his extensive work on this piece. Whether you live in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or elsewhere globally, abuse occurs world-wide and it’s the vulnerable adults in this world who are its targets.
Seniors for Sale – I provide this link to Part 1 of the series – “Ann.”