Elder abuse is a growing scourge in Canadian society, a problem that is based on the dehumanization of the victim. Human society has always faced a level of abuse, but in a society that claims to be based on the equality of all human persons, it is horrific when we look into the mirror and recognize that in fact our society has denigrated certain human persons leading to abuse of those persons.
Someone recently asked me – how can we protect people in our culture – and I responded that you cannot leave them alone.
The abuse of George Karam (89) by Jie Xiao (44) his “care worker” that was caught on video at Garry J. Armstrong long-term care home in Ottawa emphasizes the brutality and dehumanization associated with elder abuse.
The Ottawa Citizen reported on the case and includes a video link with the story.
The video, which was provided to the Citizen by Karam’s family, shows the elderly man lying in bed as personal support worker Jie Xiao yanks him back and forth while removing his diaper. Karam suffers from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and needs a wheelchair to move around.
An agitated Karam took a pair of swipes with a crippled and shaking hand at Xiao during the diaper change.
It was after a third swipe that came closer to Xiao’s face that the 44-year-old care worker unleashed a series of rapid punches with his gloved hand to the side of Karam’s face on March 8.
Xiao frequently paused between the blows, delivering two or three punches at time with his left hand as his right hand took hold of Karam’s arm. The sound of the fist making contact with Karam’s face is clearly audible on the video.
In between the punches, Xiao frequently raised a closed fist next to Karam’s face. Before delivering the final punch, Xiao appears to be swearing at Karam. Karam then lets out a shout. The whole assault lasts about 28 seconds.
Horrific incidences of elder abuse are not uncommon. In 2013 a similar story of elder abuse was caught on film in Peterborough.
On June 30 the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition reported on the recent data from a study examining how people die in the Netherlands. The study indicated that there were 431 hastened deaths without explicit request and 1693 unreported assisted deaths in 2015 in the Netherlands.
It is disturbing that the Belgian data indicates that more than 80% of the hastened deaths without explicit request were people with dementia, Alzheimer’s or coma, people who are incompetent to make decisions for themselves.
I am convinced that the dehumanizing attitude that has led to the scourge of elder abuse in has also led to de-stigmatizing the concept of doctors killing patients by euthanasia.
The concept that euthanasia or assisted suicide can be administered without abuse within a society that has dehumanized people living with certain conditions is naive at best.