By 2050, more than 2 billion people in the world will be 60 or older, which means we need to pay even more attention to the challenges faced by the elderly, and there are challenges aplenty.
Many ordinary, hardworking people see their lives fall apart as they get older. We share a few of their stories below. All of a sudden, the lives of these previously independent people became frightening and painful.
On October 1 we commemorated the International Day of Older Persons, which promotes awareness of the elderly and aims to develop a society for all ages. This year, the theme is “the Journey to Age Equality” which we think perfectly describes the ethos of Tafta.
With the support of our wonderful friends and donors, we work hard to give the elderly a better life; a life that every human – no matter their age – deserves. With your help, we give them the chance of a happy and safe old age and we can’t thank you enough for journeying with us towards age equality.
She was a hardworking wife and mother who was proudly independent. However, life dealt Megan a harsh blow. After suffering from a stroke a few years ago, Megan, now 92 years old, fell and fractured her hip. She became bed-ridden, unable to wash herself, and had to rely on her sick daughter for all her care.
It was clear to our social workers that Megan needed to be moved to a home that was better equipped to meet her needs. However, before that could happen she needed a medical report – which she was unable to obtain as she had no way to get to the clinic.
When the local community learned that Megan’s daughter couldn’t help, they rallied to transport the old lady to the clinic, where she was assessed and given her report. This was truly a wonderful example of a community working together to help an elder in a time of dire need. Megan will now live a more dignified life, with daily baths and good nutrition – basic life rights that most of us take for granted.
Imagine how frightening it must be to feel yourself losing your grip on reality? This is exactly what happened to April, who’s lived at Tafta for over 20 years. A friend noticed that April was suffering from delusions and hallucinations and took her to a doctor. After being referred to a psychiatrist, April was diagnosed with dementia and put on chronic medication.
Without any family to look after her, it was clear April needed help. One of our social workers stepped in to take care of every aspect of April’s life: from grocery shopping to arranging doctor’s appointments. Our social worker also arranged for April to move into the John Conradie House Care Facility, packing her clothes for her, and even disconnecting her electricity account once she had left home.
April is now in frail care, receiving all the assistance she needs. It is thanks to the support of our special ‘Guardians’ donors that April was able to move to this facility. Without their generosity, her final years would have looked very different.
It was a tragic irony. On the very day Tafta was marching against Elder Abuse in Wentworth, one of our social workers from the same area discovered that 89-year-old Sophie had been assaulted by her son.
For most of us, our family members are the people we rely on the most for love, support and care. That’s why it’s so difficult to comprehend a son physically abusing his elderly mother. Sadly, it happens.
Tafta’s home-based carer discovered the abuse after paying a routine visit to Sophie. We took her to hospital where she was treated for her injuries and discharged. Despite the emotional and physical trauma Sophie endured, she refused to press charges against her son, who suffers from a psychiatric condition and is prone to drug abuse. To protect Sophie, we are housing her until she is moved to another family.
Sophie isn’t an isolated case. Elder abuse is a widespread issue and most cases go unreported, as perpetrators are, more often than not, family members. Cases like Sophie’s show the importance of raising awareness of elder abuse and responding immediately to protect elders from further harm.
* Names changed to protect identity.