Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On elder abuse II

Note: This is me venting.  I am not a therapist of any kind, nor do I presume to be one.  Everything in this post is based on what I've observed, and how I try to make sense of it.  It in no way is intended to reflect the experience of others, particularly those who suffer with addiction or mental illness.  I am not speculating on the connection between addiction and mental illness with verbal abuse beyond the scope of my own experience in my own family.

In September of '09, I wrote a post regarding elder abuse, in which I discussed the verbal attacks my grandpa sustained daily. This last weekend, I observed my grandpa in the garage, trying to get me to stay and visit with him, and felt so guilty I couldn't stay. I am ashamed that it took me almost a year to act, and am ashamed that that "act" only manifested in a phone call to a help hotline earlier today. That phone call resulted in me being referred to Adult Protective Services. I will find out in a few days if they will act or not. 

I just can't stand the thought of my grandpa being in that house, in that environment.  He's a prisoner. He's dependent on my grandma, and all she does is treat him like shit. 

My grandma humiliates my grandpa, blames him for his own accident (he's got limited mobility, and has a difficult time speaking resulting from cracking his head open three years ago).  She insults him.  She yells at him for everything.  She controls his money.  She doesn't let anyone except my dad be alone with him.  I don't think he leaves the house except for doctor's visits.  Well, that, and going out to the garage--the garage is the only place he can go to get away from her.  

My aunt thinks it's my grandma acting against her fear of losing him--that she's so scared that he had that accident that it manifests in ugly, abusive ways. I've discussed reporting it with my aunt, and with a few other family members and friends of the family, but no one wants to be the one to raise the alarm. No one wants to hurt my grandma. But why should her fear, why should her feelings be more important than the well-being and happiness of my grandpa?

I know if my dad and grandma are contacted by Adult Protective Services, they will be upset. I will own up to it. I will be the betrayer. I will admit to disrupting their lives, and not fucking caring. My dad is perhaps worse than my grandma. He's an enabler. He's so fucking distracted with his alcohol addiction that he just "stays out of it." His own father is put through mental anguish to the point where he has told my aunt that he wishes he was dead, and my dad does nothing.  He lives with my grandparents--sees this every damn day. He won't step in. He won't even fucking clean the house.  He's so self-righteous, bragging that he lives with his parents to help them in their old age; it's bullshit--he only drinks.

It's like they're all just rotting there--Dad and Grandma are too deep in their own self-loathing; they're sinking.  They're consumed by their own anger and frustration at the world--everything is always someone else's fault--that they've fallen into their own self-destructions.  And my grandpa is being dragged down with them.

That family has always been the definition of dysfunction, and I admit that having grown up (partly anyway) in that house has left its mark on me, much to my own horror; and yes, my grandpa did his share of fighting back when he was able to (though that was mostly in response to my grandma's verbal attacks)--but I cannot let that man die in that house and not try to help him in some way.

If my dad wants to be a worthless sack of shit, if he wants to be self-destructive, I don't fucking care anymore. I honestly don't give a shit about him anymore. I'm past trying. I can't even remember all the times I tried with him, and only got yelled at. So fuck it. He can rot for all I care. And if my grandma wants to be useless in her house that hasn't been cleaned in I-don't-even-remember-how-long, then fine. She refuses to see a doctor, take her medication, or see a therapist. I dread visiting with her because of how awful she is. But I'll be damned if I leave my grandpa to wallow in that despair.

Even visiting that short time on Sunday was long enough to illustrate a very pathetic existence. It's almost indescribable. My dad is smoking and drinking his way to a sad and lonely end of life; he looks 20 years older than he is. And my grandma is stubbornly neglecting her own health. Why should my grandpa be neglected?

It's just so disgusting to think about. I'm anxious about hearing back from APS. I hope something can be done for him. He doesn't deserve to live his last years like this. No one does. I'm very afraid for him. And I'm disappointed in myself for not calling that number sooner. But I think, like everyone else, I was still afraid of hurting my grandma, and still felt guilty for even thinking it because I was afraid of alienating my own father.

But that guilt has turned to pity, and pity can't prevent me from doing what I should have done already.


luvandfamily said...

It is not easy being the person that takes action. I know who you are up against. There will be consequences. The verbal attacks will be directed at you. When you step outside yourself to give a voice to someone being abused - the reward is greater than anything they can do to you! Put on your armor and just take a stand. Your grandfather will thank you one day!!

Anonymous said...

This is Kat Fury via the TextualFury blog, though this comment should give you my email I want you to be able to find me if not. I am not familiar with the Blogger System.

That said, this isn't just elder abuse but is an overlapping area of disabled persons abuse and carer neglect. I myself am 25 and lived as your grandfather is, and I want to offer you resources. My blog has a post about suicide, and it is from the perspective of someone who is suicidal. This may benefit him as there are numbers he can call for support as even the act of being rescued is traumatic. You absolutely did the right thing, and do NOT beat yourself up for waiting. Not only is this an abusive situation and I am inclined to believe you were abused but abuse and herd neglect, my term for when the entire family ignores the situation, also make it harder to speak out. The risk of being ostracised has a psychological toll you cannot ignore.

You spoke out, you didn't just turn away. Adult Protective Services will likely try and place him in either an adult foster home, an independant living center, or they will want to place him in a Nursing Home. You can advocate for in home health care, though I believe they will insist he is seperated from your grandmother and it may be safer for him to live in an assisted living community. There he could still have pets and I expect you will visit him.

If you need to talk, vent or cry please do email me. I want to offer you as much support in this as I can. I know I am a stranger, but I also have been on both sides of this coin, and therefore I can at least try and help you help him. I don't want you to feel alone.

Kat Fury

Von said...

Good on you for being the one with the courage to act.It may be hard but I doubt you'll regret doing the right thing.

Sebastian said...

Surely you'd felt worse for never speaking up. I am glad to read that you decided to.

I can only relate to the idea of being the "betrayer." Truly, being family does not stop me from seeing a person as "asshole" or "criminal" if the labels apply.

Good luck.

Lisa said...

By all means do it. It seems to me that you are closer with your grandfather more than your grandma and father. By him saying he wishes he could die, that is a very loud call for help. Help him, you might become the outcast in the family for a bit, but you know what.. you saved your grandfather from living in an unsafe and abusive environment. Personally, I would rather be an outcast then to see a member of my family live that way.

Anonymous said...

you are a brave person. please don't be hard on yourself- nobody blames you. in fact, you are an admirable person for breaking out of your comfort zone and jumping into action.

this post is 2 years old, and i don't know if this is still going on, but i'll still pray for ur grandpa.