Elder abuse, by definition per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is an intentional act or failure to act that causes or creates a risk of harm to an adult age 60 years or older. Common types of abuse include financial, emotional and physical abuse as well as neglect. As I think upon elder abuse and the potential impact upon my own parents and grandparents, I feel driven by compassion and responsibility to protect not only my own relatives but also my fellow citizens. We should take every opportunity to care for our elderly and ensure they have a safe and caring environment, because they are a gift in our lives, not a burden.

Camden Rollins and his brothers started a teen senior care group through their church after learning that many older Mainers were looking for someone trustworthy to help with errands and chores. Alonafoto/Shutterstock.com

While I was in fifth grade, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 adrenocortical carcinoma, a rare cancer. My mom was consumed with my father’s care and living in the hospital for months on end. We were struggling. My grandparents immediately packed up their home and moved across the country to Maine to move in with us and help my mom care for my brothers and me. They were selfless. They became “pseudo” parents to three young boys, taking us to school, sports practices, church and Scouting. Fast forward six years. My father is a miracle, still fighting cancer, and my grandparents are still with us, only now it is our turn to care for them.

Because of my grandparents and their senior needs at 80 years of age, my brothers and I started a teen senior care group through our church. Seniors contact us when they need chores done around their home or need an errand run. We immediately respond with the name(s) of the teens who will be there to help.This group came about because we would attend church with my grandparents each week and they would stop and chat with other seniors. Most of their conversations revolved around their needs for help around their homes and who knew someone who could help and would not take advantage of them.

My older brothers and I immediately set to work to ask our priest if this was a common need. I just could not imagine people charging seniors crazy amounts of money for chores and errands that were so easy to do. Over a long conversation, my grandparents explained this form of elder abuse. My brothers and I just could not imagine someone doing this to our grandparents. We had to step up. It is one of the most wonderful experiences I have been a part of. When I leave for college, we’ve set up the younger teens to take over while we are gone.

Elder abuse in any form is unforgivable. I’ve been blessed by my grandparents and secondly blessed by all of my “pseudo” grandparents in my church. They bless me with their knowledge, their humor and their love every day. I will always continue to value the elders who enter and pass through my life as well as pass that gift on to younger generations.

If you want to learn more about how you can help prevent elder abuse or you need help stopping abuse, visit elderabuseprevention.info.

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