Every year thousands of older persons are subjected to abuse, neglect and exploitation by someone they may know and trust. It is important to remember that not all cases are reported to the proper authorities, so it is difficult to get accurate statistics. Elder abuse can occur at any place whether it be at home or at a place of care by both men and women who are trusted with their care. Due to their age, declining health and declining physical abilities older adults may be at greater risk to also fall prey to people who target the elderly for easy money and other scams. There are various definitions and laws for elder abuse, but the one used by the Department of Health & Human Services: Administration on Aging states “elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult (age 60 or older).” This definition is rather broad and can be open to interpretation, so abuse can be furthered defined into 6 forms.
Forms of elder abuse include:
- Physical Abuse occurs when an elder is injured (e.g., scratched, bitten, slapped, pushed, hit, burned, etc.), assaulted or threatened with a weapon (e.g., knife, gun, or other object), or inappropriately restrained.
- Sexual Abuse or Abusive Sexual Contact is any sexual contact against an elder’s will. This includes acts in which the elder is unable to understand the act or is unable to communicate. Abusive sexual contact is defined as intentional touching (either directly or through the clothing), of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, mouth, inner thigh, or buttocks.
- Psychological or Emotional Abuse occurs when an elder experiences trauma after exposure to threatening acts or coercive tactics. Examples include humiliation or embarrassment; controlling behavior (e.g., prohibiting or limiting access to transportation, telephone, money or other resources); social isolation; disregarding or trivializing needs; or damaging or destroying property.
- Neglect is the failure or refusal of a caregiver or other responsible person to provide for an elder’s basic physical, emotional, or social needs, or failure to protect them from harm. Examples include not providing adequate nutrition, hygiene, clothing, shelter, or access to necessary health care; or failure to prevent exposure to unsafe activities and environments.
- Abandonment is the willful desertion of an elderly person by caregiver or other responsible person.
- Financial Abuse or Exploitation is the unauthorized or improper use of the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.
(According to the CDC: Violence Prevention-Elder Abuse)
Abuse may be brought on by various outside factors which include caregiver stress, financial hardships, depressions, substance abuse and the list can go. If a caregiver is beginning to feel overwhelmed with their duties they should seek out help if possible or talk to someone who may help them deal with their feelings. Caregiving is an extremely difficult job, even though a person chooses to take on this responsibility, but it could also be rewarding. It is important to be aware of all the duties that are associated with caring for an elder adult before taking on the responsibility. Equally important is being aware of the resources available to those providing care so that they do not become overwhelmed by their duties. Elder abuse can be 100% preventable if actions are taken by the caregiver when they begin to feel stressed by their duties.
Signs & Symptoms:
Although the older person may not state they are being abused there are signs that may indicate the possibility of abuse. Not all types of abuse produce the same signs or symptoms each has its own, but we can generalize them as they may be similar. If you have a good relationship with the older adult who may be abused ask them if you notice any changes in their mood. Common signs and symptoms of abuse include:
- Emotional distress
- Changes in personality and behavior
- Unexplained injuries
- Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration
- Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores
- Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes
- Being left dirty or unbathed
- Absence of needed amenities
- Trust problems
These are just a couple of the many signs or symptoms that a person may exhibit, so always ask the person about their living conditions and treatments.
Prevention: If you’re overwhelmed by the demands of caring for an elder, do the following:
- Request help, from friends, relatives, or local respite care agencies, so you can take a break, if only for a couple of hours.
- Find an adult day care program.
- Stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when necessary.
- Adopt stress reduction practices.
- Seek counseling for depression, which can lead to elder abuse.
- Find a support group for caregivers of the elderly.
- If you’re having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help.
Elder Abuse Helplines and Hotlines
Always dial 911 or local police during emergencies.
How Can Oxnard Family Circle Help?
At Oxnard Family Circle ADHC we can assist the stressed and overwhelmed caregiver by providing them respite. At our center your loved one will be watched by trained professionals and given the attention and care they need. We work closely with their primary care physician to ensure you that your loved one is receiving the correct and adequate care. We believe in the importance of keeping seniors as independent and our programs provides them with the tools they need to prolong the need for institutionalized care.
At our center your loved one will have access to our social workers, nurses, therapists and most importantly socialization with others. We provide transportation to and from our facility regardless of where you live in the county. We also provide your loved one with 2 hot nutritious meals prepared in house and approved by our registered dietitian. You can rest assured your loved one is getting the cared they need while our facility. We also offer physical and occupational therapy if needed.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed by your caregiving duties we can help. Do not burn yourself out or allow yourself to reach your breaking point and reach out for help. Resources are available to help you deal with you caregiving duties. We provide senior care, care for adults with disabilities and veterans care. Call and schedule your tour today.
We are currently covered by Medi-Cal, Department of Veteran Affairs, Tri-county Regional Center, Long Term Care Insurance, and Private Pay as low as $79 per day.Leave a reply →