Elder abuse is, sadly, a real problem, one that often goes undetected. However, there are signs to watch out for to help you notice and prevent abuse from happening. When a senior is placed in the care of either a family member or a professional caregiver, it is important to fully understand not only the caregiver’s background and personality, but also that of the senior. If you are considering placing a loved one in home care, there are several factors to be aware of that may put elderly individuals at a higher risk for elder abuse. Family members and caregivers should be aware of the following risk factors:
- Dependency: A senior dependent on others for care may be reluctant to speak up about any abuse because they do not feel safe reporting their abuser due to the dependency.
- Decreased physical health and mobility: Dementia, Alzheimer’s and/or increased dependency for assistance with the activities of daily living may raise an elder’s risk of being abused. The elder may not be capable of explaining or verbalizing the abuse.
- The elder was at one time an abusive parent or spouse: In many cases the perpetrators of elder abuse were once abused themselves, creating a cycle of abuse.
- Social isolation: Isolation is often the result of deaths of contemporaries, spouses, siblings and friends. Abusers often try to keep an elder isolated by:
- Refusing to apply for economic aid or services
- Resisting outside help
- Changing social and healthcare providers frequently to make it difficult to assess the elder’s situation
- Keeping family and friends from having contact with the elder
- Caregiver burnout: An overworked caregiver can become depressed and stressed, causing him or her to lash out at the elder he or she is caring for.
As a family member of a loved one in care, be mindful of these risk factors, call and/or check in on the senior as often as possible, and play an active role in his or her care. As a caregiver, be aware of signs of burn out—frustration, depression, despair—and seek help for ways to safely deal with these feelings.
Live Free Home Health Care of Central New Hampshire can help you and your loved ones learn about and prevent elder abuse. Our respite care program is there to assist caregivers, giving them the break that they need, while providing quality care to their loved ones. Call us today to find out more.