Elder abuse, although not often discussed, has been stated as being more prevalent than most realize in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 500,000 older adults are believed to be abused or neglected each year, just in the United States alone. And with many more suspected cases that go unreported, it’s crucial for all family members to be alert to potential abuse in their elderly loved ones. Below are some of the risk factors associated with elder abuse:
Dependency: A senior dependent on others for care may be reluctant to speak up about any abuse because he or she does not feel safe reporting the 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 by that parent, creating a recuring cycle of abusiver behavior.
Social isolation: Isolation is often the result of deaths of contemporaries, spouses, siblings and friends. In the abusive situation, the 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 other family members 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. While not meaning to be "abusive," the situation can spiral downward relatively quickly if the elder's family caregiver never gets a break from caring for that parent or grandparent.
If you are the family member or friend of someone who is being cared for whether by another family member or outside help, keeping these risk factors in mind can help prevent caregiver burnout or abuse. Checking in on the senior or calling them as often as possible can be a very helpful way to play an active role in his or her care. And if you are the family caregiver, be aware of signs of burnout—frustration, depression, despair—and seek help for ways to safely deal with these feelings.
If you know of a senior needing in-home care to stay safely and effectively at home, or you see a family caregiver beginning to be overwhelmed with taking care of a loved one, consider calling us to learn what's available in the community or retaining services from a Home Care agency.
AAging Better completes a full FBI background check on all of our employees, along with driver’s license and reference checks, to ensure we hire nothing but the best employees to place in our client's homes. We also encourage family members to work together with us in selecting a specific caregiver with whom they feel most comfortable.
To learn more, call us any time at 208-777-0308 in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden and Post Falls area; 208-263-7889 in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River area; or 208-784-1505 in the Kellogg, Pinehurst or Wallace area; or, toll-free from any area at 866-464-2344.