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Elder Abuse from a Caregiver Perspective

In caregiving, community on November 4, 2011 at 3:24 am

Statistics show that every year tens of thousands of elders across America are abused whether it’s domestic, institutional or self-neglect. No matter how you look at it, it’s a crying shame and we (yes we) must do everything we can to stop it. Remember we will all be a senior some day.

Domestic abuse is the most common and it usually initialed by someone who is close to the elder (spouse, child, sibling, friend and/or a caregiver). I am ashamed to have to include caregivers in this as I take my duties as a caregiver very seriously and consider myself extremely loving and caring. Some people are just opportunistic while others are just plain mean; and then you have those that don’t know how to handle their own situations let alone dealing with someone else. People have been preying on weaker people for centuries and it’s not getting any better, especially since we have so many more people living longer.

Institutional abuse occurs in nursing homes, group homes and care facilities and is inflicted by those who are legally required to take care of our elders. While self-abuse stems directly from the elder themselves. Here are some warning signs to look for in the elder you know and love:

* Bruises, scars and other bodily injuries
* A change in emotional behavior or mimicking signs of dementia
* Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
* Unusual weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
* Unexplainable diseases or infections
* Any changes in their financial state; family or caregiver is unusually interested in the elders finances
* Problems with care facility or under/over medication
* Multiple billings for the same medical care

This list only highlights the major warning signs to look for. According to the Elder Financial Protection Network roughly $2.6 billion is stolen from seniors every year. Elders most often rely on family and friends to help them with their financial matters. Most often the abuser is someone the elder trusts or is the primary caregiver so the elder is unwilling or unable to get help. This crime is one of the most difficult crimes to detect and prosecute as it can take many forms from forging a senior’s name on checks, loan or credit card to promises of services that are paid for but not delivered. Elders get coerced into giving up power of attorney or bullied into giving money and/or other assets.

Please, please, PLEASE keep a watchful eye on the elder in your life. If you suspect someone you know has been a victim of elder abuse please contact the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400 or their website at http://www.txabusehotline.org Outside of Texas contact the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) at 1-800-677-1116 or their website at http://www.ncea.aoa.gov

Save a Life, Love a Senior!

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