WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE TO AN ELDER
The National Center on Elder Abuse lists the following indicators as important clues to, but not necessarily signifying, possible abuse.
- Bruises, burns or cuts
- Dehydrated or malnourished appearance
- Signs of confinement (tied to furniture, locked in room)
- Anxiety, confusion, withdrawal or depression
- Lack of cleanliness, grooming
- Sudden bank account withdrawals or closings
- Overmedication or over-sedation
- Expressions of shame, embarrassment, and fear
WHY WOULD A CAREGIVER BECOME ABUSIVE?
Abuse tends to occur when the stress level of the caregiver is heightened as an elder’s condition worsens. Elders in poor health are thus more likely to be abused than those in good health.
Caring for frail older people often places great strain on a caregiver, particularly when: an elder patient is mentally or physically impaired, the caregiver is ill-prepared for the task, or necessary caregiving resources are absent. Under these circumstances, the increased stress and frustration experienced by a caregiver may lead to the abuse of an elder patient.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ABUSIVE CAREGIVER
Pay attention to the following signals which may demonstrate that a caregiver has become abusive. The caregiver:
- Forbids the older person to speak for him or herself without the presence of the caregiver;
- Threatens, insults and demonstrates aggressive behavior;
- Demonstrates an attitude of indifference or anger toward the older person;
- Demonstrates problems with alcohol or drugs;
- Has a previous history of abuse; Demonstrates an obvious lack of assistance to the elder person.
Caregivers, about on in ten, lose control once in a while. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, or any combination of these. It can take many forms, such as:
- Hitting or slapping
- Withholding food or medication
- Physical restraints, when unnecessary
- Yelling insults or threatening violence
- Misuse of funds
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- Sexual abuse
Often the elderly person who is being abused won’t talk about it. They fear that they’ll lose their care and love. The family setting can look ideal, but abuse can be hidden, especially emotional abuse.