Elder abuse has been defined as “Intentional harm inflicted on an older adult by someone with whom they have an expectation of trust.” The National Council on Aging estimates that roughly 60% of abused seniors suffer at the hands of a family member.
Caregiving for a dependent senior can be very stressful and is a responsibility nobody should assume without proper preparation and support. Untreated or poorly managed stress can ultimately lead to the abuse of the one being cared for. It’s important to know other risk factors besides stress that lead to a caregiver having a higher risk of committing elder abuse.
Caregivers have a greater risk of committing elder abuse if they:
- Are highly financially or emotionally dependent on the senior
- Care for an elder with poor mental or physical health
- Only have limited access to elder care services
- Have negative beliefs about aging
- Have poor coping skills
- Lack social support
- Suffer from substance abuse or mental illness
- Weren’t trained or prepared adequately for caregiving responsibilities
- Were exposed to abuse as a child
Caregivers in highly stressful situations who are taking on eldercare responsibilities may eventually resort to physical abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and other forms of abuse.
How Can You Help to Prevent Elder Abuse?
According to the American Psychological Association, there are steps you can take to prevent elder abuse. Here are five of them:
To help understand elder abuse, it’s essential to take the time to understand it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) page on elder abuse is an excellent resource. It also provides you with other sources of information you can learn from.
2. Respite care
When a caregiver becomes overwhelmed by stress, they are more prone to abusing the elder they’re caring for. Sometimes being given some time to rest and refresh themselves will help relieve some of that stress. Respite care offers assistance and relief with the care of your loved one. This is very important if the person being cared for has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Social contact and support
A caregiver that has a robust social network is more likely to handle stress better and not let it reach a critical level. While sharing the responsibility is important, having other people to talk to regularly is also helpful. Getting friends and family involved will also lead to elder abuse being noticed if it’s taking place.
Taking care of a loved one is a major life event that can produce stress as harmful as a divorce or job loss. Caregivers should be encouraged to seek counseling if it’s evident that their stress level is rising. Group counseling for the family or individual counseling can help the caregiver identify caregiver burnout signs and help them avoid it from happening.
Raising public awareness of elder abuse and neglect is another avenue to prevent it from happening. The more people that know and talk about this problem, the better. Social media is a very effective way to spread the word about this issue. Sharing this blog post with your family and circle of friends can also help raise awareness.
You can help by spreading the word that June 15, 2021, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This issue is so vital that the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution decreeing it. It’s a global problem, and helping to prevent it takes all of us doing our part.
Let Us Help
New Wave Home Care’s carefully screened and professional caregivers provide the respite care that caregivers need to keep their stress level manageable. In addition to respite care, we provide personal care, transitional care, hospice support, and medication reminders.
Our mission is to support families with personalized in-home solutions. We’ve been providing exceptional home care services in Pasadena, CA, for over 10 years. Contact us today for a FREE in-home assessment by visiting us at www.newwavehomecare.com or call us at (626) 662-7738.