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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Elder abuse and English language difficulties

Topic: Elder abuse and English language difficulties

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    28 January 2018

    As in Victoria 46% of the population is born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas many ethnic communities age disproportionately from the rest of the population. This happens because many non-English speaking residents arrived in Australia at the same time, they had similar ages, and in large groups. So the thousands of Greeks, Italians, Polish etc who migrated after the World War are all old now. Many depend on family members, usually children, or partners to help them with day to day living as either they never learnt English (due to large numbers who stuck together and helped each other, as well as lack of services and supports back at the time of their migration, and due to other governmental priorities - Australia needed unskilled laborers to work in industries that no one else wanted to go), or they revert back to their native tongue due to dementia and/or other cognitive impairing diseases and the aging process.

    Unfortunately this group of elderly are particularly susceptible to elder abuse, (any act that harms older people and that is carried out by someone they know and should be able to trust such as family or friends. Such harm can be financial, physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, including mistreatment or neglect.)

    This abuse from a loved one can bring elderly to desperation, cause enormous pain and stress and contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. As this group predominantly doesn't speak good english, is not computer literate or smartphone savvy etc has additional challenges when it comes to accessing information and navigating services and supports. Often their mental illness goes unnoticed or undiagnosed. Many suffer in silence. Their lives are filled with fear and distress as on one hand they rely on their children/loved ones for support and on the other, these very same people neglect their needs, manipulate them emotionally, exploit them financially, and abuse them in ways unfathomable to many.

    So how do we help half of our elderly population who may not know their rights and options? How do we support an elderly person who is frail, vulnerable and disadvantaged due to linguistic and cultural notions that perhaps hinder their ability to ask for help? How do we make a difference to a 70yo+ or 80yo+ who may suffer from depression due to conflict in the family and being trapped in their own home? It could be your neighbor, your relative, your friend or your own partner or parent.

  2. Quercus
    Champion Alumni
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    Quercus avatar
    3557 posts
    31 January 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte',

    Two really thought provoking threads (this and the vegas thread).

    This one hit home. I may be Aussie (married into a Polish Australian family) but I do worry about my mum in law especially. Overseas she worked in a lab. Is such an intelligent woman. But here people hear her accent which is strong and treat her like an idiot because she struggles with the language.

    An example of how this makes her vulnerable was the day she had made an appointment in a bank. Walked in and mentioned her appointment. Luckily my husband overheard the reply to her and stormed in. It was disgusting. First they accused her of being in the wrong bank and basically asked her if she could read. Then told her to get her husband to come so he could translate. Happiest moment ever was watching the bank manager's face when we cancelled every single account with that bank and then made a formal complaint. But my point... She is vulnerable. Because her son wrote the complaint. Her family stood up for her rights. It frightens me what happens to others without support?

    The solution? Community! Many of us don't know our neighbours. The small country towns have the right idea in terms of promoting community. Cities have a long way to go.

    We once had an elderly Macedonian couple next door. My Dad gained knowledge of the art of growing the most magnificent tomatoes. If we had never bothered to meet our neighbours we would have missed out on the joy of this friendship. And knowing your neighbours means safety. They knew help was a yell over the fence. Occasionally it was help with paperwork. But mostly it was knowing you have local people who care.

    Good on you Donte'. The multicultural section is a good idea. New sections are always slow to start and I value your thoughtful topics.

    Nat

    3 people found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Thank you Quercus,

    Community has always been the strength of groups belonging and growing together, supporting each individual member into their pursuits and goals as they established themselves in Australia. Each community was developed from need and support and solidarity to individuals with common interests or backgrounds. This is how we have developed this multicultural society we are all part of.

    I'm very interested in the idea of interculturalism - moving beyond multiculturalism to each cultural group sharing and working together with another to grow and support each other in this integration process into the modern australian society.

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Quercus
    Champion Alumni
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    Quercus avatar
    3557 posts
    1 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte',

    This is facinating... Interculturalism. Not a term I have come across before. I know I could google it but I would like to ask your interpretation if that's ok and how it relates to your topic of elder abuse?

    How do you feel interculturalism will help allow elders to access better support and protection from abuse in Australia?

    I hope this doesn't take your thread off topic.

    Nat

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    2 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Nat,

    thank you for the questions you pose. Interculturalism is part of multiculturalism as it involves the various groups engaging with each other and sharing knowledge, ideas and strategies that have worked for them in their communities on issues that are similar with other communities.

    Currently, as various ethnic communities age, many elders are experiencing neglect or financial, social, physical, verbal, emotional or psychological abuse particularly by their adult children.

    One way that elders could support each other is through elderly citizens clubs, day care centers, bingo etc where they have oppportunities to mingle with other ethnicities and chat to peers during social activities about issues that trouble them at home.

    Certain communities have experienced this issue at earlier times as their population peaks and ages at different times. The leaders of these communities can work together with leaders of new and emerging or smaller communities and share their learnings and ways that have worked for them when addressing the issue of elder abuse.

    Multiculturalism often can be an isolating experience if people of a particular group remain actively involved only within that group. Interculturalism is taking our knowledge and experience a step further as it allows the opportunity for dialogue and ‘cross-polination’ between cultures.

    Hope this has helped shed some more light into the topic. :)

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Hayfa
    beyondblue Connect Mentor
    • beyondblue Connect is a FREE service that puts people living in Victoria's Greater Dandenong community, in touch with mentors. They can support your wellbeing and help you achieve your goals.
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Lebanon
    Hayfa avatar
    120 posts
    2 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Quercus and Donte',

    Interculturalism is a fascinating topic and one that could certainly be explored and implemented further within the multicultural communities.
    I have often heard from older migrants in my community complain about no longer being connected or recognising members of their community because their community has grown so big over time. My parents often spoke about the early days of migration and the strong social connections they had with others who migrated at the same time, social events, gatherings, story telling and working in the same factory were experienced together.

    Contrary to popular belief that the bigger the community, the more social connections, I think the reason for the disconnection over time is because as the community expands so do all the subgroups. While this can be conducive to the healthy growth of communities, I think it also divides communities and alienates some members who might find it hard to re-integrate. This isolation is a big problem in all communities in general not just multicultural ones and it is very worrying because research suggests that one of the leading causes of death in the elderly is social isolation.
    I can see a real advantage in intercultural practice for communities if they are willing to participate new connections and exploring new experiences.

    Hayfa

    2 people found this helpful

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