Observations: Elder Abuse


James Hillman, the noted psychologist who recently died needs to be more of a household name even though  one  of his more popular books, The Soul’s Code was at one time New York Times bestseller.

In that work he wrote persuasively of the “acorn” theory of development wherein it is theorized that each of us is born with a psyche blueprint for our own “calling”.  In his work “The Force of Character and the Lasting Life” he elaborates on his thesis and has this, amongst other things  to say about  elders and aging:

“The disparagement of values generally associated with the old- tricks, skills and know-how; familiarity with local lore, songs and phrases, and superstitions; and just plain slowness- lowers their value. In the context of these diminished values, we more easily justify geronticide. We call this “putting them out of their misery” and cover it over with more antiseptic language such as “DNR” (“Do Not Resucitate”) euthanasia, death-hastening and assisted suicide. These practices take place in private homes, nursing homes and hospitals far more often than reach the public eye. Even if our society does not condone beating, stabbing and strangling the aged, in some hearts the wish is often there.”

Dr. Hillman often speaks in “extreme” language to make his point- however these words written in 1999 do bear serious reflection.  In the last number of years, a practice area known as Elder Law has developed within the North American bar. A  subset practice area is “elder abuse”  wherein the focus of the lawyers is on dealing with legal or business  transactions that have been procured  through physical threats, emotional and psychological duress and coercion or  other unconscionable influences exercised  by caregivers, family members, friends or strangers.

Issues involved in testamentary capacity,  undue influence, power of attorney  abuse and contested committeeships frequently come within the “Elder Law” umbrella and specifically elder abuse. Please review some of our articles on the Clark Wilson Wealth Preservation website or other blogs recommended on this website for a greater insight into this unfortunate reality.

The concerns noted by Dr. Hillman over 12 years ago have not diminished. Indeed there have been so many alarming cases that our Provincial Government anounced some time ago that a seniors advocate position would be established. The structuring of this new position is happening within the Ministry of Health. In a recent  release, Health Minister De Jong anounced that consultations will be taking place throughout June in various locales,

Consultations  in Abbotsford, Surrey Parksville and Vancouver have already taken place. Further consultations will be held in Kelowna ( June 2o);  Cranbrook  (June 22); Prince George ( June 25)  and Dawson Creek June 27.

If you wish to register call 1 855 356 9614 or if you simply wish to share any observations then you are invited to email seniorsadvocate@gov.bc.ca.