Overcoming Barriers: Helping Older Adults Disclose and Participate in Treatment for Elder Abuse 5/12/2021 from 12:30-2:30 PST

This Webinar will discuss the cohort effects that make older adults less willing to talk about their abuse and engage in treatment services than younger adults.  These effects may underlie why so few older adults contact the police, or Adult Protective Services for help. At least two clinical cases will be highlighted. The case of Ann (age 70) who was the parent of a high spirited child that she often allowed to have control of the family, and is now the victim of elder abuse and financial exploitation at the hands of that adult child and that of Ron (age 80) who was the perpetrator of child emotional abuse and neglect and is now the victim of elder abuse.  Different aspects of development can influence how Ann and Ron make meaning from what happens to them and may serve as additional barriers to them directly confronting their victimization. These barriers will be discussed along with strategies for overcoming them. 

Participants will gain ideas for talking with older adults about their victimization and/or perpetration and developing the structure for treatment plans. After attending this webinar, participants will be able to describe barriers to older adults disclosing abuse, be able to describe strategies for using the values of older adults to talk with them about abuse, and design treatment goals that may enhance the motivation of their older adult clients. They may also gain increased awareness of the need for their working environments to be trauma-informed and provide support to prevent staff from developing secondary trauma from working with cases of elder abuse.

This webinar will use the Center for Disease Controls’ definitions of the types of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of being an elder.

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe at least three barriers to older adults disclosing abuse
  • Describe at leasts three stretegies for using the values of older adults to talk with them about abuse
  • Design treatment goals that enhance the motivation of their older adult clients

This training consists of a 90-min presentation and 30-min Q&A to allow interaction between the presenter and participants in real time. 

Presenter: Pearl Berman, PhD

Audience Level: Intermediate: Appropriate for attendees who have been in the field 5-10 years and have basic information on a topic

Areas of Emphasis: Elder abuse, disclosure, treatment, vulnerable adults, barriers

Earn 2.0 Continuing Education Credit Hours!

Part 145 4/13/2020 Claire’s Story: Did Claire lie to Craig?

By P. Berman 

I don’t get this at all. But, I am caught nowI have to wait for her to show up. 

Craig didn’t know what to think. A moment ago, he was sure Claire had been lying to him. Now, hearing this guy Mr. Carson knew he was coming to take Claire out, he just felt confused. If there was anything, he hated more than being lied to, it was not knowing if he was being lied to. His father had taught him early that he was not to grow into one of those idiots, who couldn’t tell a “lie” from the “truth”.  

The licking continued….Butch loved this Carson guy whoever, he was. Craig watched him scratching the perfect spots on Butch’s back; should he trust Butch’s instincts? Just as he was mulling this over, Claire rushed to the open door. She had a huge smile on her face, and she looked so happy, gentle and innocent. 

Could she look like this and be a liar? 

Craig looked into her eyes and hoped he could see the truth, that she wasn’t trying to deceive him. He would give her a chance to explain things. His dad acted like a smart man could always tell when a woman was lying; there had been times when he assumed the worst, because he wasn’t sure. Did his confusion mean he was the idiot his dad often called him? Could his dad be wrong, and it actually be tough to tell sometimes? 


What’s the difference between the truth and a lie? 

It depends on who you ask. 

Most young children would agree with the definition on www.quora.comif it “doesn’t match the facts” it’s a lie- in the simpliest sense of what truth means. Young children can’t understand the “intent” of the person who might be giving inaccurate, but not intentionally wrong information. For example, someone saying it is 10 a.m. when the clock on the wall says 10 a.m. and not realizing the clock’s battery is about at its limit.  

Young children also don’t know the different that “time” plays in what happens in their lives. If you say you will take them out to play in an hour, when you are done with work, but then it starts to rain so an hour goes by and you say going outside has to be put off, the child may well call you a liar. 

What about adults like Craig? 

Claire had not left “Davy out” of her talks with Craig. She had just given all control of the conversations she had with Craig – to him. Thus, Davy literally never came up. She had been learning from the Carsons for years now, about the importance of being an honest person and she had been working hard at helping Davy understand the difference between a truth or a lie. She had not intentionally “deceived” Craig about her circumstances. 

Is there a difference between being honest and being truthful 

To read about why Craig may struggling to know when someone is trustworthy go to: 


Part 144 3/30/2020 Claire’s Story: Who is Davy?

By P. Berman 

This game lasts so long! I want to get up…wait, what is that? 

Davy was so tired of sitting for the football game. But he didn’t want to leave Mr. Carson alone. Then, he heard it. Dare he look up? Davy looked at Mr. Carson- yes, he was asleep and snoring! Davy very slowly unfolded his legs- he didn’t cry out even though his legs were cramping. He crawled on his hands and knees out of the living room. 

I am almost out! I can run upstairs and play. Oh no! 

Davy could almost taste it, the excitement of being able to go up to his room and play. But then the door bell rang. Alarmed Davy looked into the living room; Mr. Carson had rolled slightly in his chair but was still asleep. Davy had to get to the door before it could ring again and wake Mr. Carson up. He didn’t want to go back to watching the game again. 

Davy crawled fast to the door, jumped up and opened it! 


It’s so wet. But he’s so cute. 

Davy had a dog’s noise pressed up against his. Davy jumped up and was petting the dog completely forgetting his manners. He didn’t even notice Craig standing there, looking down at him in total surprise. 

Who is this? His hair matches Claire’s. What is this? 

Butch was enjoying the petting from Davy and he began licking Davy’s face. Craig noticed that the little boy seemed to know how to treat a dog. Craig wondered briefly if Claire could be a live-in babysitter or something. He knew this was the right house, he had seen Claire going in there. He was beginning to feel annoyed, left outside and ignored.  

“Hey, kid, is there someone named Claire living here?” Davy looked up from Butch and noticed this tall man staring down at him. Davy remembered his manners. “Hello, I’m Davy,” he reached out his hand to Craig. Bemused, he shook the hand of this little boy. When no further action happened. He said again, “Hey, I am looking for Claire. Is she here?” 

What a silly question. Of course, his mommy was here. But, who was this man and why was he here? 

Davy was very curious, but he knew what he had to do next. “Sorry, I am not allowed to let strangers in. You will have to wait while I get my mommy.” Davy shut the door and ran upstairs. Craig didn’t know what to do. Should he take off? Wait for an explanation? While he was trying to figure this out, Butch had been pulling on his lease. Why had the petting stoppedButch started to bark. Craig tried to quiet him down, but before he could, it had woken Mr. Carson up and now he opened the door. 

Surprised for a moment he just stood there before remembering what was going on. He then placed the guy and the dog. Claire had a date at the park with this guy. “Hello,” he said, “putting his hand out just like Davy had. “I’m Mr. Carson, you must be Craig. Come on in I am sure Claire is ready.”  

Now who was this guy. What rig was Claire running here? 

Craig was feeling uninformed and out-of-control. He had watched Claire go home twice. He had thought he knew what was going on. He hated this feeling of not knowing what might happen next. On the other hand, now this Mr. Carson was patting his dog and asking him, “What’s the big guy’s name?” 

Is Claire’s date going to end before it stops? 

Should she have mentioned Davy to Craig? 



Part 143 3/27/2020 Claire’s Story: It was the squirrel’s fault

By P. Berman 

What should I tell him? Will he be jealous? Will he get scared? 

Claire had just put away the last grocery as Davy came in from the backyard with Mr. Carson. “Mommy can you play a board game with me? Mr. Carson says he is too tired.” Claire look into Mr. Carson’s face. He did look very tired.  Claire was worried about him; he should sit down and relax.“What did you do to tire our Mr. Carson out?”  

Davy started laughing. “Well, maybe I did run after a squirrel into the forest and maybe I was sitting in the grass watching it eat so Mr. Carson didn’t see me. And,” Davy said apologetically, “maybe, I should have heard my name called but...mommy the squirrel has tiny paws that it uses to eat, and I was so amazed it took me awhile to hear.” 


My curious Davy. But, he has to learn to be more careful when he is out in the woods. 

Claire could see in her mind just how it happened. She felt pulled between smiling at his joy and anxiety over his recklessness. Sitting down in the tall grass in the woods, and not calling back to Mr. Carson was dangerous– he could get lost – the woods went on for miles.” Mr. Carson saw the emotions play across Claire’s face. He had become very anxious when Davy didn’t immediately respond to his calling out. But he didn’t want Claire to get overly upset. He noticed she still had a hard time calming down once she got anxious. 

 “He did apologize Claire, but I admit, I did get nervous and start rushing back and forth thinking he might have fallen and gotten hurt.” “I never get hurt Mr. Carson, you don’t have to worry about me.” “Davy, Mr. Carson said with a chuckle, “you get hurt all the time because you run so fast, your feet don’t notice rocks in the grass!” 

Why does he look so pale? Could Mr. Carson be coming down with something? 

“Davy, I think we should tuck Mr. Carson in his favorite chair with his sports blanket. I know you don’t like to watch sports on TV but, since you tired Mr. Carson out, you should sit near him and get him his soda and snacks whenever he wants them.” 

Why do big people tire out so fast? He is so old. I can’t make him chase me so much. 

Davy was looking up at Mr. Carson and really paying attention to him for the first time all morning. He did look very tired. They had been playing outside all morning; Mr. Carson had mentioned it was time to go back inside, right before Davy got distracted by the squirrel. Davy felt very selfish. He loved Mr. Carson; he shouldn’t forget how old he was!  

Davy hated watching sports because it meant he had to sit still. His mommy had told him many times that sometimes, you had to do something you weren’t interested in, just because someone you loved cared about it. When Davy looked up at Mr. Carson and saw the fatigue in his face, he was instantly sorry he wasn’t acting interested“I will help you Mr. Carson. You can explain the game to me again and maybe I will like it this time”.  

Mr. Carson took Davy’offered hand but started to chuckle. “I won’t explain things to you Davy, don’t worry.” Claire took his other hand and they walked together into the living room. Davy held Mr. Carson’s blanket while Mr. Carson sat down, flipped the switch and popped his legs up the way that made Davy laugh. 

Claire turned on the TV and was happy to see that Davy was sitting down next to Mr. Carson, holding his hand, and asking questionsClaire sighed. Her Davy was learning a lot about how to care for others.  

How did he learn all this? 

Would you like to learn how to help children learn to be kind and caring? 

You can find a lot of ideas at: 



Part 142 3/25/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig is coming to pick her up!

By P. Berman 

He is coming today! I have to finish shopping! I need to get ready! But, it’s also laundry day… 

Claire is almost done with shopping for the week. Then, she needs to do the laundry and get ready for her date. If only she had done some loads last night but she had been so tired after playing games with Davy outside. It had been such a beautiful day, and knowing she was going to be gone this afternoon made her feel she needed to put out the extra effort. Her Davy was never going to feel she didn’t have time to spend with him. 

There was such a long line at checkout. She almost snapped at the checkout woman when it was her turn at the register. Then she noticed the button saying, “it’s my first day.” Fortunately, she was able to swallow the criticism that had felt about to burst out of her mouth. She remembered how bad she had felt when a mom had yelled at her on her first day as a hygienist. She took a few deep breaths and smiled at the young woman and said, “first days are hard, aren’t they?” The young woman had just stooped over to pick up a can she had just dropped. “I am sorry, I am so clumsy. I will get someone to replace this.”  

Oh, no, this would take more time. But it was Mr. Carson’s favorite can of baked beans. 

Claire swallowed her impatience, Mrs. Carson was making franks and beans for dinner so she couldn’t leave the store without it. The young woman looked so stressed out. Claire said, “I have noticed that if I slow down, I’m not as clumsy. I think everyone drops things when they are going too fast.” The young woman looked quickly around and then whispered, “the manager told me the last checkout person was fired for going too slow.” 

The manager should not have said that. It was just going to push this woman to make more mistakes before she learned the job. Claire tried her best to be helpful. “I think that the first few days, you have to go slow. Then, you probably will have learned what all the keys stand for, how to check the produce costs, and you get faster. That person who got fired probably had been on the job long enough to have been going faster.”  

It had taken a lot of effort for Claire to speak up. But she was glad she had. It looked like twenty pounds had fallen off that woman’s back. She was standing up straighter and was actually going faster. Claire wondered if fear had been interfering in her doing the job well. It was hard, to always be aware of how she was affecting other people. But seeing that young woman smile at her, and look more self-confident, was a type of reward.  

It seemed like everything today was going so slow today but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Maybe, she would have missed important moments with other people today if she had kept rushing.  


The parking lot was jammed with cars as Claire packed the trunk of the Carson’s car. When she got in, she realized that she was forty-minutes behind schedule. She wouldn’t get home on time to do the laundry before Craig showed up.  

Don’t freak out. It’s okay. You can handle it. 

Claire practiced saying calming things to herself, like Dr. Berman had taught her. In a few second, her anxiety had been stopped in its tracks. Her brain was working again. She realized that when she got back from the park at 5, she could collect all the laundry before dinner. She could make a game out of doing the laundry after dinner. She could let Davy “help,” it would take more time, but it would be their evening play time. Whenever Davy stretched to put clothes in the washer or leaned in to get clothes out of the dryer, Claire could tickle him.  

From being anxious, Claire was now feeling great. Slowing down and being more aware/mindful of what she had been doing led her to engage in helping someone else. She had remembered the pain of being yelled at her first day of work, when she was doing her best. She had used the memory of this pain to get herself to reach out and help someone else. Now, thinking about that day, and that mother, was going to make her smile not cringe. 

It isn’t easy to notice what is going on around you, when you have so much to do.  

Consider taking a moment today and notice if there is anything you could say or do to help someone else. 

If you do it, notice how it influences the rest of your day. Or maybe, even events much later, like whenever Claire was triggered to remember her first day at work. 

Part 141 3/23/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig went cold

by P. Berman 

I was a high performer this week. Why do I feel so sick? 

Craig’s dad was very angry. He had heard about Craig’s performance at a meeting last week and had allowed himself a brief smile. He had called Craig up at the office to congratulate him but then he had gotten no answer; something was clearly wrong and needed to be straightened out. His son was not going to screw up yet another opportunity to show his superiority. 

He felt a surge of anger when after calling his son’s home number, he heard his son say hello. “What are you doing at home on a Saturday! Three other men performed as well as you last week. How are you going to get ahead of them being this lazy! 


Craig knew there was no point defending himself; no point saying all of them were going together to the ballgame There was also no point mentioning how lonely he was and wanting to fit in with these other hard-working young men; it would just lead to a further stream of abusive comments. Craig couldn’t remember his dad having friends. His dad did play golf, and he did go to baseball games, and concerts but always with big clients, to solidify contracts, never to relax with them. 

I feel so cold. Why am I sweating like this? 

Craig just listened to his dad’s harsh words. His dad seemed to have an excellent memory for every time he had messed up some great opportunity by being lazy and not putting out the necessary effort. He felt so cold and clammy. Butch put his nose in his lap. He looked down and began to stroke his dog’s back. Butch began to lick his hands. Craig smiled, and rubbed Butch behind his ears. Craig’s dad was still yelling but now Craig was just tuning him out, focused completely on Butch. He heard a click. His dad was finally done. 

I am feeling great now. What is it about this dog? 

Craig looked down at Butch with a big smile. He didn’t feel clammy anymore. He had time to take him for a quick walk before he got ready for the game or….went to the office.  

Craig is doing very well at work. Why should he hesitate to go out to a ballgame? 

He is lonely and this game is an opportunity to make some male friends. 

According to the Health Resources and Service Administration, “Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.” Craig doesn’t need someone to just play golf with. He needs to feel emotionally connected to others. To read more about the problems of loneliness go to: 


Part 140 3/16/2020 Claire’s Story: Can phone calls be abusive?

by P. Berman 

I will introduce Claire to Butch. If she brings up the name Max, I will just act surprised. 

Craig was feeling satisfied with himself. While he was cold and stiff, from his time sitting out on his front steps, he finally had a plan he felt good about. He would be a strong man and take immediate control of the conversation before any thought of the name Max could be brought up. After kneeling down and helping Butch hold out his paw for a hand shake, he would laugh and ask Claire what she thought of his Butch. The dog loved him and was bound to lick his face with all this attention- that would show Claire what a great guy he was. 

Claire was shy, even if she remembered the name Max, she probably wouldn’t bring it up. If she did, after a moment of surprise he would say that was the name of his first dog, that had died last year. Claire would hear a catch in his voice and any concerns she had about him would fade. Women liked men who hurt when their pets died. 

Craig stood up with a smile and climbed to his front door. Once inside, he popped his frozen dinner in the microwave and pulled out a beer. It was at that moment, the phone range.  

I am tired. I don’t want to answer it. But, what if it’s Nick about their trip to the ball game next week? selective-focus-of-baseball-pitcher-in-20-jersey-about-to-163487

Several men from the bank were going to a ball game and sitting in the Bank’s private box. They had earned the treat from being the highest performers in the last week. Craig jumped to answer the phone, his heart beating a little faster in anticipation of a great call. It wasn’t Nick. The first syllable Craig heard, sent his stomach sour- his dad was calling. 

Craig’s hand went to his stomach, he sat down, and began to sweat. 

Can Craig feel sick just from the sound of someone’s voice? 

Craig may be experiencing classical conditioning. That is when two things happen at the same time over and over, like being yelled at by the same personBeing yelled at, particularly by someone with power over you, may naturally trigger the release of stomach acid. If you get yelled at over and over by this person, just the sound of that person’s voice, even when not yelling, could trigger the acid release and make your stomach feel sick. 

To see a family example, that is more silly than scary go to this YouTube video: 



Part 139 3/13/2020 Claire’s Story: Are Craig and Claire really alike?

by P. Berman


I wish I could be more like my dad. If I was only as smart as he is, I wouldn’t make stupid mistakes! 

Craig was caught in a daydream filled with an image of himself as inferior to his dad because he gave Claire the wrong name for his current dog. He was relentlessly cutting himself down; just as Claire, with her very different family background, often cut herself down. They were intolerant of making mistakes. Yet all human’s make mistakes- even Craig’s dad. 

Claire came from a rural poor family. Craig came from a wealthy urban family. Yet, emotional abuse, in the form of relentless criticism from their parents was a childhood experience they shared in common. Young Craig was his dad’s pride in joy, unless he made a mistake.


Even a four-year-old Craig had received a verbal beating for making mistakes at preschool. Craig was lost in youthful memoryHe was hiding in the backyard, underneath his swing set. Craig had felt forced to hide so his dad couldn’t see he was crying, and his dad couldn’t see him. Craig had been playing ball with the neighbor. Craig really admired this big kid- he was six years old yet still was willing to play with him!  This boy had received a ball and bat for his birthday and was trying to teach Craig how to play baseball.  

Craig took a wild swing at the ball coming straight at him. It started out as a wonderful miracle- his bat made contact with the ball. But then it happened, the ball hit his dad’s car, sitting in the driveway-it made a big dent.  Deeply worried, Craig had told his dad, the moment he came home, about the accident. For his honesty he was given a harsh spanking and told he was never allowed to play with the neighbor boy again; he was an older boy who should never have let a twit like his son put his hands around a baseball bat. 

Craig sighed as he sat on the step. He never lacked for any physical thing he had he needed growing up. But he was routinely forbidden from spending time with anyone he made friends with- something was always wrong with them. Craig had grown up lonely. His parents were well educated but didn’t seem to know what to do with a child or how to have enough time to be involved parents. 

Craig’s parents had both gone to college. Claire’s parents hadn’t made it through high school. Thus, in some ways, Claire’s parents had more excuses for being ignorant of normal child development that CraigsHowever, most people learn how to be a parent, from what they learned growing up in their families. Both his parents had learned a major lesson growing up- if it didn’t bring in money, it wasn’t that important. 

Craig’s dad was now the regional manager of a large bank. He had raised Craig to have all the skills necessary to be successful in the world of banking. He had also taught him that to real men, were always in control of what was going on. Craig had learned his dad’s lessons well. At work, he was on the fast track, always impressing his bank manager with his knowledge of finance. With the women he dated, Craig always took control; but he was still lonely. 

Do you think Craig will abuse Claire? 

What other signs might you look for? 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides the following signs that a partner might be abusive including: 

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right 
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away 
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members 
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs 
  • Controls every penny spent in the household 
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses 
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you 
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do 
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions 
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children 
  • Prevents you from working or attending school 
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets 
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons 
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with 
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol” 

Has Craig used any of these tactics on Claire? 

To read more go to:https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/ 





Part 138 3/11/2020 Claire’s Story: Can Craig admit his mistake?

By P. Berman  

What is wrong with me? I know better than this. I have to fix this. 

Craig was sitting outside his apartment. He was cutting himself down. He had realized, few minutes after Claire got off the bus, that he had changed the name of his dog. What was wrong with him? How could he have made such a stupid mistake? He sat very still and captured a memory of his dad sitting at his desk at home. Whether at home or at the bank, his dad was always busy at work. The only difference being that at home, he would take off his tie.


Craig’s dad had been tough on him. Criticizing his every mistake, quick to punish any sign of laziness. But he always told Craig the reason for his toughness, successful men owned the world. Unsuccessful men were at the beck and call of everyone, even women. Craig had done everything he could to please his dad. There were times, while not exactly smiling, Craig could tell his dad was proud of him.  

have to figure this out alone. No one can know what I’ve done. 

His dad would lose all respect for Craig, if he learned about this stupid error. His father never messed up the chase like this. No, if there was anything his dad was better at then banking, it was building new relationships with women 

I want to be with Claire. We have a date. What do I do about the dog? 

Craig had shown Claire a picture of his dog Butch last week. Today, she had asked about the dog and he had shown her another picture. That was when his brain when soft and he called the dog Max. What a fool he was. He had owned Butch for almost a year now. His dog Max had been killed last year after being hit by a truck.  

What if I just tell her? Is it that big a deal?  

Admit a mistake? What could he be thinking!  He could almost hear his father roar at the thought. No real man made a mistake, and if he did, he covered it up- no one ever knew about it. Claire would lose all respect for him if she found out– what a laughingstock a man who couldn’t remember the name of his own dog 

Okay, I won’t admit to a mistake. Can I risk assuming she didn’t notice the name flip flop? 

The plan was to take Butch walking in the park.  He would have to call the dog Butch; the dog was too smart to come if he was called Max.  

Is it bad to make mistakes?  

Is it only bad if you get caught? 

Is it only bad if you’re a man? 

Psychologist Jason Moser has studied mistakes and finds they make our brains grow. From this work, in helps our brains get smarter when we make mistakes. Do you think Craig would ever believe that? 

To read more go to: https://www.youcubed.org/evidence/mistakes-grow-brain/