Understanding Elder Abuse
One day while caregiving for a new elderly client, I noticed a large bruise on her forearm. When I asked her about it, she quickly retorted with “it was an accident” and skittishly dashed away. Later that day, when I was picking her up from her adult day program, the program director informed me of the bruise’s source which was reported from another employee. Every day the client would walk unaccompanied to the vending machine around the corner from the center to get a beverage at lunch time. It was later discovered that during that time a group of young adults would steal her change. Earlier that day before I saw the client, I found out that she had refused to hand over the change, so one of the members in the group struck her then took her change. It is a known fact that the elderly become frailer and less capable of standing up to bullies or fight back when attacked like this. Mental and physical ailments can also make elders more challenging companions in their own homes with their family.
Elder abuse can come about in many forms. Most commonly seen are: emotional abuse, healthcare fraud and abuse, financial exploitation, sexual abuse, and overall neglect or abandonment. Caregivers are by law mandated to report any suspected abuse they may identify while caring for their clients. Many caregivers follow through by being responsive as well as documenting and reporting accurately as advocates for their clients if abuse is in question. However, on the flipside, too many cases of elder abuse are not being reported still to this day.
There are risk factors that can contribute to elder abuse. Caregiver burnout can play a role. Caregivers who are overworked might be less attentive to the safety of clients or less observant of potential signs of elder abuse. The client’s personal history and existing condition are contributing influences as well.
It is imperative to prevent elder abuse! Whether you are a friend, family, caregiver, or supervisor of an elder, always intervene if you sense any category of abuse present. Listen to the elderly person. Remember that knowledge is power. Spread the word on what elder abuse is and how to stop this from continuing to transpire. As the Operations Manager at Nurse Next Door in Walnut Creek, CA if new hires have any questions at all about how to recognize, report, document, identify risk factors or learn how to prevent more elder abuse from happening that there is free training available. I also share any free workshops in the community where guest speakers and educators speak out to the public on this hot topic with employees.