Eldercare by Dr. Anita Gittens

Wikipedia defines an elder as “some-one with a degree of seniority or authority”.

It also states that “In Christianity, an elder is a person who is valued for wisdom and holds a position of responsibility and authority in a Christian group”.

There’s a sense of authority, knowledge, recognition, wisdom and value – characteristics which can be associated with respect.

In today’s society, one wonders about value and respect when hearing about elder abuse.

The World Health Organization defines Elder Abuse as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.  The abuse may be financial, emotional, physical, or neglect.

Elder abuse is unfortunately, a growing problem.  North American studies show that between 2 and 10 percent of older adults (aged 65 and over) experience some type of elder abuse or neglect every year. Stats Canada projects that by 2021, there will be approximately 3.8 million senior women in Canada, which would suggest that between 76,000 and 380,000 will experience some type of elder abuse.

This abuse can be a single occurrence, however in up to 80% of cases, it happens on a recurring basis.

For those who are dependent on caregivers or family members for their care, the abuse may be kept private and may be difficult to detect.

No elder deserves to be abused or to accept abuse because of fear of retaliation, feeling hopeless or not having an advocate.

What can we do?  Prayer and action!

Our actions can include raising awareness of elder abuse, looking for warning signs, listening to concerns expressed, offering support, advocacy, reporting elder abuse, and treating everyone with respect.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to be respectful and caring as we help others. Let us to be more aware of their needs and recognize when they may be in danger of abuse. I pray that elders may find places of safety, comfort and peace and look to you, with restored hope, as their refuge, strength and security. In Jesus’ name. Amen


Dr. Anita Gittens; Anglican Church of Canada Representative; WICC Treasurer

3 comments on “Eldercare by Dr. Anita Gittens

  1. Stephanie McClellan on

    Thank you, Anita! A poignant reminder in CoVid time’s that not all elders are receiving the loving respect that should be shown them. We rarely hear of their wisdom and value when we simply try to warehouse them out of sight and out of mind. Thank you for the call to prayer and action.

  2. Valerie Hobson on

    Thank-you Anita….your words are such an important reminder of the place elders should hold in our society as sources of wisdom and knowledge. I pray with you that we raise awareness with the action recommendations you gave to prevent elder abuse and establish elder’s rightful seat in our communities with deep respect for the wisdom they can impart to future generations.

  3. Win Czum on

    Thank You Anita, so important to honour our elders and hear their stories, I find getting out photo’s will often trigger a story.
    What are churches doing to accommodate those with dementia?


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