While there are certainly many assisted living facilities, nursing homes and in-home caregivers doing a fantastic job caring for the elderly, abuse is something that many family members worry about.
As our loved ones age and are less able to live independently, often the only option is to find a facility or caregiver to help them with grooming tasks, bathing, medication management and other daily tasks. Many people also are facing some level of dementia, which is quite upsetting and frightening. Often these senior citizens are targets of abuse and neglect.
In general, it is wise to note any changes in behavior or personality. While some changes can be part of the aging process, if your loved one suddenly seems fearful or nervous or agitated, it could be a sign that their caregiver is being abusive. It’s also a good idea to monitor the interaction between the caregiver and the person receiving care. If you note tension or arguments seem to be occurring frequently, these also can point to abuse. If a caregiver seems hesitant to allow access to an elderly neighbor, a friend or loved one, this also can be a sign of abuse.
Sometimes, an abused person will even mimic behavior that seems like dementia, such as rocking back and forth or mumbling. While this could be a sign of dementia, odd behavior and confusion also can occur when someone is being mistreated. Remember that mental abuse is damaging, too, so if you see signs that a caregiver is unkind, belittling or overly controlling, these are signs of abuse that need to be taken very seriously. In addition, sometimes personality changes can be caused by over-medicating or under-medicating a patient.
There are many different types of abuse that may occur. Sometimes the abuse is physical, and you see signs of bruising, cuts or burns on part of their body. While a bruise certainly could have a perfectly logical explanation, bruises on both sides of the body are unusual, and frequent bruises or injuries are a cause for alarm. While the caregiver might not be inflicting any physical abuse on your loved one, clearly there is some neglect going on and that is quite troubling.
Neglect is a very common type of abuse, and if you see an elderly person that begins to suffer from obvious signs of dehydration or malnutrition, this could be a sign that their needs are not being met. Sometimes, a person will be wearing dirty clothes or smell bad due to neglect or the home or room they live in is unclean and unsanitary.
The best way to stop or prevent elder abuse is through vigilance. If you notice any signs of abuse, ask your loved one privately about their daily experiences with the caregiver. Talk to the caregiver and address your concerns. Report abuse to the Adult Protective Services office in your county or contact the police if you believe the person is in immediate danger. If the person is living in a board and care home, an assisted living facility or a nursing home, also contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman’s Office and report any abuse.
There are always options available for senior care, and if you need to find a new facility or caregiver for your parent or loved one, contact our staff at Care Placement. We can help find a pre-screened care facility that truly meets the needs of your loved one and ensures that they will be safe and cared for properly.