This article is part of The Third Third of Life Toolkit—a collection of resources for ministry to and with people ages 55 and over, brought to you by two ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America: Disability Concerns and Faith Formation Ministries.
Learning to recognize the signs of elder abuse and helping older adults make safe choices and understand their rights are two ways the church can help relieve this growing crisis. The resources gathered here can help both families and church leaders.
Elder Abuse. This page from the National Institute on Aging website clearly explains the problem of elder abuse and offers resources for detecting and preventing it. This is an excellent set of guidelines for churches.
In Vulnerability, Adults and Abuse Rachel Boehm summarizes data about elder abuse found on the National Health Service website.
A PBS news story titled Most Nursing Homes Are Not Adequately Staffed, New Federal Data Says discusses the nurse/patient ratio in most nursing homes, particularly on weekends, and how insufficient staffing might lead to abuse.
Scammers Look for Vulnerability and Find It in Older People. Abby Ellin describes the growing problem of people over 70 being scammed out of their retirement dollars.
Safe Sanctuaries: The Church Responds to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Older Adults. One of the main points in this book by Joy Thornburg Melton is that churches have an important role to play in creating structures and implementing practices that protect vulnerable older adults. The book includes case studies with conversation guides for leaders, ministry implementation strategies, and sample policies, forms, and templates.
Elder Abuse—Learn the Signs and Break the Silence. This video gives three scenarios of how elders are mistreated and abused by their families. A great tool for starting conversations that bring change.
An Age for Justice: Confronting Elder Abuse in America challenges viewers to understand the prevalence and impact of elder abuse. This video is a powerful reminder that abuse occurs in many different ways and settings, both from family and from caregivers.
FOR THOUGHT OR DISCUSSION
What could your church members and leadership do to be proactive about preventing elder abuse?
If you’re part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America and you have questions about how to strengthen your church’s ministry to and with people in the third third of life, one of Faith Formation Ministries’ Regional Catalyzers would love to talk with you about ideas and strategies.