Elder Abuse – Families Often Responsible

We often think of abuse of our elders in terms of physical abuse and often associate that with nursing homes. But abuse can also be verbal, financial exploitation. And most abuse comes from family caregivers themselves. The latest study in the British Medical Journal reports that more than half of family members looking after people with dementia admit they have behaved abusively toward their relative.

Actual physical abuse was rare among the 220 caretakers in the study. But 115 of those surveyed acknowledged some abusive behavior toward the relative under care, with “significant” abusive behavior described by 33.6 percent of caregivers.

The most common form of abuse was screaming or yelling at the person with dementia. Insults or swearing accounted for 18 percent of reports, with threats of sending the person to a nursing home happening in 4.4 percent of cases.

Comparable studies in the U.S. have not been done.

So a few suggestions:

åá Create a plan for you and your loved one well before any signs of disease or sickness appear.
åá Work a plan with family members near and distant.
Research care options and costs. Unless medically necessary many home health options will
not be covered by insurance.
åá Draft a living will and durable medical power of attorney.
åá Plan for how you will pay for care. Consider long-term care insurance.
åá Reach out to your church and research support options.
åá Once care is actually needed; don‰Ûªt be afraid to ask for help!
åá Acknowledge your own feelings and behaviors and seek out a friend or pastor to talk.
åá Understand the motivations for your caregiving. Doing it for the wrong reasons can lead to
resentment, being overwhelmed, and feeling you have no options.
åá If a loved one needs physician or hospital care, seek out a board certified geriatrician and a
hospital that has geriatric physicians on staff.
åá Consider a geriatric care manager. Find one in your area at: http://www.caremanager.org/ They
can help you find available resources, paid and non-paid, and help coordinate care.
åá Consider your path as a caregiver as an opportunity to know your loved one and yourself in a
new and different way.

Consider some resources:

Take this stress test from the Alzheimer‰Ûªs Association: www.alz.org/stresscheck

Use your local area agency on aging as a resource. Find one here.

Use the Medicare’s online Nursing Home Compare tool if you need a skilled care facility.
They just introduced a new rating system for nursing homes to help you find the best one.