The New York Times Magazine online had a really interesting article written by psychiatrist Mark E. Agronin, M.D. who works with elderly residents, some of whom reside in nursing homes.
The elderly arrive, presumably to finish out their lives being cared for physically, medically, emotionally and socially by a qualified staff of caregivers.
Agronin provided insight in his article about the difficulties of dealing with the adult children of elderly parents they claim were abusive.
He's not doubting their stories. Child abuse is known to be rampant in this country. He talks about the changes seen once these parents become old and frail and the adult children are now strong and capable.
Gone is the frightening monster who hit, beat, sexually abused, or psychologically harmed their children. Now that abuser, be it the father or mother, is old, frail, weak and sometimes powerless.
The power has come down from parent to adult child. Some grown children simply walk away with orders not to be contacted until the parent dies. (Having worked in nursing facilities myself, I can attest to this.) Others visit only occasionally.
This can seem cruel to those on the outside. Picture an old, white-haired lady sitting placidly in her chair, calming watching television and thanking staff for her glass of water.
Then picture her forty years before, beating her children, forcing them into actions that would scar them for life, denying them food or proper shelter and using words that hurt even more than the belts and rods she used to beat them with. A woman with two lives, that only her children see.
Child abuse can lead to depression in adults, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and a host of other conditions, including brain changes, physical affects and changes in the way their immune system works.