Elder abuse is a terrible scourge on society. It can take many forms. And, the victims can be rich or poor. But often the victims are aged, elderly widows – the most vulnerable of our society.
While often those with modest means are mistreated, the recent, high-profile conviction of New York socialite Brooke Astor’s son “of defrauding his mother’s $200 million fortune, as she struggled in her last years with Alzheimer’s disease” (Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2009), demonstrates how even the very rich can be victimized.
Around the world, elder abuse is a growing problem. Some statistics about elder abuse in the U.S. compiled from http://www.elderjusticenow.org/ are:
- At least one in nine Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of abuse
- The typical victim of elder abuse is a woman over 75 who lives alone
- Some 14,000 allegations of abuse, neglect or gross negligence are reported in nursing homes
- About 342,400 people aged 66 and over experience mistreatment
- The predominant type of mistreatment is neglect, followed by financial, psychological and physical abuse
- Elderly women were more than three times more likely to report mistreatment than elderly men
As Christians, we are admonished to not only esteem, protect, and provide for the elderly, but also to “defend the fatherless” and “plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). In fact, God considers care and respect of the widow and the elderly a primary hallmark of pure religion (James 1:27). Further, 1 Timothy 5:4 instructs us that “if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (NIV). And, v. 8 is a shameful indictment of those who claim to be Christian, but do not caringly provide for their relatives (including their elderly parents and grandparents) as having denied the faith, and being worse than unbelievers.
The Eternal’s care and concern for the vulnerable in society, and specifically for the elderly, the aged widow, and the fatherless, has been expressed since ancient times (Deuteronomy 24:19; Proverbs 15:25; Jeremiah 22:3), and His promise that the “old men and old women” will enjoy peace, safety and honor during Christ’s coming Millennial rule on this earth is clear (Zechariah 8:4).
Thankfully, in Christ’s coming Kingdom, all nations and all people – young and old – will finally experience Godly government, peace, safety and abundance. To learn more about the wonderful coming Kingdom of God, please read the booklet: The World Ahead: What Will It be Like? and watch “A New World Is Coming.”
Erma Evans, a widow in the Church of God, served as a perfect example of what the apostle Paul called for from our senior women (Titus 2:3). She touched the lives of many and was affectionately called "Mama Evans"