Among the more shocking statistics when it comes to the abuse of older people is that one third never tell a soul.
We like to think it couldn’t happen in the Jewish community, such are its strengths and values, but it can – and, as this week’s special report on the issue shows, it does.
Nobody knows better than the elderly that they become more vulnerable with age. As a community, we know our job is to support them. What the latest shocking case of abuse shows is that our duties go beyond that.
We also need to be on our guard against those who profess to support but, in fact, seek to extort, ignore, control or hurt.
Financial abuse, which Jewish charities this week report as being on the rise, often starts at or close to home, with trusted family members or friends being asked, or offering, to help out. Most harbour no ill intentions but, sadly, this is not of everyone.
Abuse can take many forms. Often the intent is not to abuse. We can all picture the elderly man struggling to look after his wife, unwilling to admit he can’t. We understand, but if he’s not looking after her, then it can also be abuse. And abusers, whether by design or chance, do not signpost their abuse, so knowing and reading the signs and symptoms can quite literally save a life.
That is why this newspaper wholeheartedly supports the Jewish Care-Jewish Women’s Aid partnership and the planned workshops, due to start in mid-March, for community members who want to know how they can better identify concerns. They are a must-go.
To put a stop to abuse, we must first be able to spot it for what it is.