Did you know that tens of thousands of our elderly are abused at home or in health care facilities? It might be hard to discover that your elderly parent is being physically or emotionally harmed by their caregivers. In other cases, they may be taken advantage of financially. As a mindful person, you may be the first line of defense against this form of abuse to the ones you love.
WHAT IS ELDER ABUSE?
As people get older, they become less capable of standing up to abuse or bullying. While a younger person might be able to fight back, they may not have the physical or mental strength to defend themselves. Because of this, the opportunity for less-than-moral people to exploit them. While the nearly half a million cases of elder abuse are reported in the United States each year, it is predicted that millions go unnoticed.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE SIGNS OF ELDER ABUSE
This form of abuse may be very difficult to identify. At first, it may seem like the initial signs of dementia or accidents occurring around the home. The person inflicting the abuse may make logical excuses for your loved ones injuries. It is your job to look into the situation with more scrutiny. Two initial warning signs to look for if you suspect your loved one is being abused by their caretaker are:
- A sudden change in their personality. They may appear skittish or confused. They may be irritated.
- They may have a noticeably increased dislike for their caregiver. This may lead to confrontation.
THE RISK FACTORS FOR ELDER ABUSE
Abuse becomes more likely when the elderly loved one when they have greater needs. While the first response for most people is to take care of the relative themselves, their ailments may be too severe for a non-professional caregiver to handle. The result of this can lead to abuse. Why? Because they become burned out or impatient or unable to control their emotions. The risk factors involved can include:
- Depression caused by seeing their loved ones health failing.
- Having the responsibility of supporting the elderly relative heaped upon them while another potential caregiver isn’t putting forth the same effort.
- Lack of psychological reward.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE?
If you are an elderly patient that is being abused, you should tell someone about the abuse. Your doctor or another family member can help you. You can also call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
If you are a family member or neighbor of someone you feel is being abused, it is your responsibility to report this negligence. While the exact group to report the abuse to differs from state to state, there is typically an Adult Protective Service hotline to call. Listen to your elder loved one. Educate others on the warning signs of elder abuse. And intervene if necessary.