|Abuse concerns come when least expected|
Elder abuse is a complex issue to tackle. Unfortunately, it’s more common than many believe. Now I’m a firm believer that a person can find the statistics to support almost any claim and the statistics I found are quite varied and I could frankly terrify you with some. But let’s put the numbers aside - I’d rather talk about people. The fact is that elder neglect and abuse is out there and it may be affecting someone you love.
My hope is that if you’re reading this, the thought of such has been far from your mind. You’re the caregiver who has been bending over backward to try to offer the best care possible to your loved one. But if as in my last post, with "Ellen” and her mother Mary, if the thoughts are coming to mind that something is just not right, this may help.
Also, as a conscientious caregiver, you may be just the person who can help a friend to ease fears or take action with a bit more information than just suspicions shared over a cup of coffee.
In the next few posts we’ll look at some types of abuse, signs of abuse, and what can be done to stop abuse.
The World Health Organization offers this definition:
“Elder abuse has been defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse can take many forms including physical, psychological and sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and self-neglect,medication abuse, abandonment, scapegoating,and marginalisation of older people in institutions or social and economic policies.”
For our purposes, we’re not going to address social and economic policies. We’re going to look at what can be going in within a home or facility environment. The basic issue here starts with one of trust.
|reasonable or not?|
Whether care is offered in a personal home or a facility/institution, there is the assumption of trust that a certain level of care will be maintained. One issue that causes caregivers grief is “reasonableness.” It’s one of the widely defined terms that factors into any care situation.
Is it reasonable to expect that mother will not have bruises on her arms?
What if mother is on medications that cause her to bruise easily?
Bruising, to levels excessive to a ‘healthy’ person, would be reasonable depending on the circumstances.
The definition of reasonable changes with a person’s physical condition and all the different factors: underlying health issues, medications, and mobility concerns that factor in.
This is where it’s important to get the facts, such as Ellen did where her mother was concerned.
In her case, was it reasonable for her mother to not remember having eaten meals?
Well, the next question to ask would be…
Did her mother have dementia or memory issues?
Not to her daughter’s knowledge.
Then no, it was not reasonable for her mother to not remember having eaten meals.
Next course of action?
Verify meal plan and see if there could be an onset of dementia.
Such was very difficult for a long distance caregiver and most certainly the signs of possible neglect or abuse are incredibly difficult to discern from a distance. However, when you take in the ‘reasonable’ factor, many caregivers second guess their suspicions only to suffer terrible guilt later when they find actual abuse has taken place.
The key to discerning truth - be involved and ask questions. If you, or your loved one, are not satisfied with the answers, ask more questions.
Next up: where to go for help
Note: Due to family vacation schedules and additional research time needed for this series, I did not post last week but will be back on schedule now... thanks for your patience!