The following is a statement from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian organisations.
ELDER ABUSE AWARENESS
For some elderly people in our community, the words “I Will Take Care of You” are the most dangerous words they may ever hear. Most people are very sincere and caring to their parents and loved ones when they use these words. There are, however, a significant number of children and so called friends who deliberately abuse older people, rob them of their homes, bank accounts and property, some even abandoning the frail & elderly for their own financial gain.
Metropolitan Andrij Sheptytsky said “Good Christians are in life able to keep God’s fourth commandment to “Honour your father and mother” even when parents are not good and are not deserving of respect, children are to respect them all the same for such is God’s law.” The Ukrainian Catechism says, “Children ought to care for their parents in their illness and provide them material and moral support in their old age. Children ought to remember that respect and love for one’s parents carries an obligation to look after them for the duration of their lives. No one can ever be relieved of this duty.”
Patriarch Mstyslav often quoted Ephesians 6:2-3 – “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” He wanted those entrusted to his spiritual care to remember that it is from our parents and all the elder generations that we receive the gift of life and the treasury of spiritual and cultural history. “If we fail to care for their needs when they are no longer able to do so for themselves, then we set a course for the eventual destruction of humanity, for our own children will follow our example, perhaps even more aggressively.” Life is precious and holy from conception to natural repose and ours is the God-given responsibility to secure this holiness.
Often we hear that some parents or friends are denied entrance to proper nursing homes or medical care, under the pretence that it’s too expensive and the family home and available money could be better used by those left behind. Last wills and testaments are changed to suit the survivor’s needs and wants because increasingly senile people do not know the difference and it is so easy to take advantage of them. Siblings are intentionally left out of wills.
Some benefactors are in fact virtual strangers or neighbours who happen to have access and influence on invalids and vulnerable people under the pretext that “I will look after you”. The behaviour of these opportunists is criminal. It is a problem in our society and it has been going on in our community for far too long. It’s time to openly discuss this issue, educate families, and develop a better attitude to our parents and grandparents.
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as family and friends. It is a form of family violence and can include physical, psychological, emotional abuse, neglect, and using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally and improperly. Elder abuse is a complex issue and can be very difficult for people experiencing abuse within their homes to break the silence and speak about their situation.
It is important to know that if you are concerned, or know of someone at risk or experiencing elder abuse, confidential help is available by calling “Seniors Rights Service” in your State or by talking to your trusted health professional. If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or life threatening situation, seek urgent help immediately.
For more information about elder abuse, visit the Elder Abuse page on Seniors Online or the Seniors Rights website at www.seniorsrights.org.au.
This statement is supported by:
Mosr Rev Bishop Peter Stasiuk – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania
Most Rev Fr Michale Solomko – Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Diaspora, Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
Stefan Romaniw OAM – Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations
Marusia Jarocky – Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy Pastoral Council
Michael Moravski – Association of Ukrainians in Victoria
Marko Shumsky – Ukrainian Council of NSW
Frank Fursenko – Association of Ukrainians in South Australia
Stephen Chomyn – Association of Ukrainians in Queensland
Mykola Mowczan – Association of Ukrainians in Western Australia
Marina Ladaniwskyj – Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania
Halya Kasyan – Ukrainian Women’s Association in Australia
Adam Jartym – Ukrainian Youth Association in Australia
Philip Botte – PLAST Federal Executive
Orysia Stefyn – Ukrainian Council of Education in Australia
Wal Mykytenko – Dnister Ukrainian Credit Cooperative
Prof. Marko Pavlyshyn – Shevchenko Scientific Society in Australia
Marko Shumsky – Ukrainian Studies Foundation in Australia
Peter Deriashnyj – Ukrainian Free Cossack Society in Australia
Tatiana Zachariak – Australian League for a Free Ukraine
This post is also available in: Ukrainian