AISES Science and engineering conference gathers students
Twyla Baker-Demaray, of Grand Forks, N.D., was one of several American Indian graduate students presenting their research at the conference.
Older American Indian women appeared less concerned about elder abuse than older men, said the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara graduate student. She is studying American Indian elder abuse for a master’s degree at the University of South Dakota.
Baker-Demaray conducted a survey of elders at the National Indian Council on Aging conference a year ago in Milwaukee, Wis., where 470 questionnaires were completed by American Indian elders 55 and older.
”The trend was basically that as our age groups went up, the older age groups showed less concern for all types of abuse than the younger, 55 years, who showed a little more concern for abuse in the communities.”
Baker-Demaray said people on the reservations or in Indian communities showed more concern for abuse than those off the reservations.
Her survey showed that older-generation females were less concerned about abuse. ”Our review showed that … overall, older-generation females are at the highest risk of abuse,” she said. ”Either they are not really talking about it, [are] not willing to talk about it, or they don’t know what it is.”
Often, that was the case, Baker-Demaray said. ”If nobody hits me, I am not being abused” is what the older women seem to say, she explained.
”It depends on what Indian nation you are talking to, [what] their definition of abuse [is]. It’s different in Alaska than it is in New Mexico. And these are all based on culture,” she said.
Baker-Demaray found that the oldest of Americans Indians studied appeared less concerned about abuse, likely because they are from the generation of government boarding schools. ”Maybe they are a bit more accepting of this type of behavior: ‘This is the status quo. This is how it always has been, and this how it always is going to be.’ They accept it,” she speculated.
Baker-Demaray admitted her survey was of older American Indians who were healthy enough to attend conferences. Her survey did not include those in nursing homes or in formal health care facilities, she said.