22 Mar Elder Abuse and Neglect
Every year, tens of thousands of elderly Americans are abused in their own homes, in relatives’ homes, and even in facilities responsible for their care. You may suspect that an elderly person you know is being harmed physically or emotionally by a neglectful or overwhelmed caregiver or being preyed upon financially. By learning the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and how to act on behalf of an elderly person who is being abused, you’ll not only be helping someone else but strengthening your own defenses against elder abuse in the future.
It’s difficult to take care of a senior when he or she has many different needs, and it’s difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur.
Many nonprofessional caregivers, spouses, adult children, other relatives and friends find taking care of an elder to be satisfying and enriching. But the responsibilities and demands of elder care giving, which escalate as the elder’s condition deteriorates, can also be extremely stressful. The stress of elder care can lead to mental and physical health problems that make caregivers burned out, impatient, and unable to keep from lashing out against elders in their care.
Among caregivers, significant risk factors for elder abuse are
- Inability to cope with stress (lack of resilience)
- Depression, which is common among caregivers
- Lack of support from other potential caregivers
- The caregiver’s perception that taking care of the elder is burdensome and without psychological reward
Even caregivers in institutional settings can experience stress at levels that lead to elder abuse. Nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they lack training, have too many responsibilities, are unsuited to care giving, or work under poor conditions.
The elder’s condition and history
Several factors concerning elders themselves, while they don’t excuse abuse, influence whether they are at greater risk for abuse:
- The intensity of an elderly person’s illness or dementia
- Social isolation; i.e., the elder and caregiver are alone together almost all the time
- The elder’s role, at an earlier time, as an abusive parent or spouse
- A history of domestic violence in the home
The elder’s own tendency toward verbal or physical aggression
In many cases, elder abuse, though real, is unintentional. Caregivers pushed beyond their capabilities or psychological resources may not mean to yell at, strike, or ignore the needs of the elders in their care. (The preceding is an excerpt from helpguide.org. Click HERE for the full article.)
Below is presentation with more information on Elder Abuse.