Health & Wellness

Help STOP Elder Abuse – An AMAC Call to Action

By – Andrea Rogers

Norma Evanston is an 88-year old widow who had remained healthy until two years ago, when she suffered a fall. Since her children live out of state, the family made several long-distance calls and ultimately, hired a local caregiver. However, several months later, after a concerning phone call, the family realized that the caregiver was not providing the professional care they expected. Despite the fact that the caregiver was hired from a “reputable” company, Norma’s doctor reported that Norma had suspicious bedsores and had missed a scheduled appointment. Fortunately, the family was able to make alternate arrangements to ensure that Norma received the proper care and respect she deserves.

Unfortunately, Norma’s story is not an isolated case. Nationwide, research suggests that more than 2 million elderly people are abused, neglected, or mistreated each year. However, experts say that number is most likely much higher, since most cases are never reported.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse refers to the intentional mistreatment of elderly people either through abuse or negligence resulting in harm or loss.  Abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional, or mental mistreatment including; assault, battery, sexual abuse, improper restraints, withholding of food or water, improper administration of medication, and the failure to assist with personal hygiene such as showers or restroom use.

Elder abuse does not have to include physical, mental, or emotional abuse. In fact, some caregivers are kind to an elderly person to gain access to their property or bank information. Elder abuse can also include theft of property, personal identity, or money.  Sometimes, a person who says they will help an elderly friend or relative may attempt to take advantage by moving in with the elderly person only to try to take control of their property or money.

What kind of Care do Elders Need and Deserve?

Care for the elderly will be based on their specific needs and will be determined by their ability to care for themselves. Even though they may still be living in their own homes, some elderly people may need help with tasks such as shopping, driving, or maintaining the home.  People living in assisted living facilities may require assistance with cleaning and meal preparation. It is important to receive the input of your loved one to help determine their level of need. Families will need to be sensitive yet realistic as they go through the process of making care decisions with and for their elderly loved ones.

Many elderly people require round-the-clock care. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia may be physically fit, but unable to care for themselves or make decisions about their care.  Others may require 24 hour care because they are bed-ridden due to an illness, fall, or advanced age.

Regardless of their physical state,  all elderly people need to be treated kindly and respectfully. Their feelings, habits, and desires should be taken into account when a treatment plan is put in place.  For instance, elderly people who are able, should be encouraged to interact with their peers and continue to pursue personal pleasures. Studies show that elderly people who maintain active lifestyles and those who retain friendships live healthier and longer lives.

Who Abuse the Elderly?

Abuse or mistreatment of the elderly comes at the hand of someone who is entrusted with their care. Caregivers may be strangers hired from caregiving agencies, but they can also be family members, or friends. They may also be employees of a nursing home, or rehabilitation or assisted living facility. Unfortunately, many caregivers who abuse the elderly are children or grandchildren of the elderly person. Regardless, it is never acceptable to allow anyone to perpetuate abuse, and there is help for those who believe they or a loved one is being abused.

People who do not have the support of family or friends are often the target of abuse or mistreatment. Those with mental or physical functional impairment are also at risk.

WARNING SIGNS

Signs of abuse vary. However, it is important that you or someone you trust is able to physically visit periodically with your loved one to ensure they are not being abused or mistreated.

Look for these warning signs:

  • Bruises, broken bones, burns, or pressure marks
  • Unmet medical or dental care needs
  • Unexplained changes from normal habits – such as eating habits
  • New signs of depression or signs of fear
  • Bedsores, poor hygiene – such as matted hair, uncut nails, toileting, and dental issues.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Financial losses or unexplained change in assets
  • Sudden withdrawal from social activities
  • Unexplained or sudden change in personality

If you suspect abuse, ACT NOW!

Where to Find Help

State laws vary, but all are designed to stop the abuse of our elders.  CALL 911 if an elderly person appears in need of immediate care. Elderly people may be in immediate danger of harm or death if left in the care of abusive or negligent people.

The Adult Protective Services (APS) agency in your state is often a first resource. The number in your state can be found by visiting the National Center on Elder Abuse at http://ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Get_Help/State/index.aspx. You can also call 1-800-677-1116.

Elder abuse is investigated by various agencies including, Adult Protective Services, as well as, local and state law enforcement.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Even if you don’t have an elderly loved one, you can help others by keeping an eye out for your neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Watch for unkempt yards, or mail piling up at an elderly neighbor’s house. This may be a sign that they are having trouble keeping up with their house, or getting around. Ask questions if they appear to exhibit any warning signs of abuse or neglect. Let them know you are willing to help!

 

 

 

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joyce Ballard
4 years ago

As horrible as this may seem. A friend of mine in a nursing home was recently diagnosed with massive cancer. No other tests were done. Then Hospice was called in to provide pain management. On Monday when I stopped by she had makeup on and was eating an elegant meal with a young man. She had not gone out for meals for three days, because she was in too much pain. We visited and she was reading an article I brought her about her being active in volunteering. Happy. On Wednesday she was out of it. Barely able to talk. I prayed with her and she squeezed my hand. I saw her on Thursday and she was barely moving. They did not have her dark glasses on as she had always had and the curtains were open and the sun was shining. She died on Sunday morning at 8 am. When I talked to her husband I found out that they had given her a syringe-driver for pain on Friday.
What happened? why did she die so quickly. Her niece told me that they never did any real second evaluation of her condition.

Thomas H
4 years ago

I would say, from what I’m hearing and seeing, that elderly abuse is probably closer to 5 million per year.

George Waterman
4 years ago

In the “Where to Find Help section” the Internet link to get help doesn’t work. http://ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Get_Help/State/index.aspx

The link is listed in paragraph “The Adult Protective Services (APS) agency in your state is often a first resource. The number in your state can be found by visiting the National Center on Elder Abuse at http://ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Get_Help/State/index.aspx. You can also call 1-800-677-1116.”

This link works: https://ncea.acl.gov/resources/state.html

Jay
4 years ago

I’m nearly 85 and have been very fortunate to have experienced fairly good health. Several of my neighbors have not been so fortunate. After all these years I find the American health care system to be under management of people who find profits FAR more important then providing quality health care at a reasonable cost. Secondly, the largest contributory problem is the inept political systems which are more concerned with their image than service to their constituents. Again those inept bozos in Washington are trying to dump their incompetence on us with a totally flawed health care program. The swamp is getting deeper instead cleaned!!! WAKE UP WASHINGTON !!!

Andrea Rogers
4 years ago
Reply to  Jay

We agree. We just went through a long difficult process of trying to find adequate care for a loved one across country.

Jan Pugh
4 years ago

I recently finished a manuscript called FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT, regarding mistreatment of the elderly in nursing homes, and suggestions on how to correct the abuse that I saw daily, during my 22 year career as a nursing home dietitian. The book also explains how to find the best nursing home in any area in the U.S.. Interested?

Marie
4 years ago
Reply to  Jan Pugh

Yes, though too late.. I am still deeply upset over things she endured. I finally removed my mother from a nursing home within a continuing care community (highly rated) due to negligence issues. They actually put CPS on MY trail for removing her, though I gave notice and had necessary legal papers. My mother resided in my home until her death. I maintained friendship with another resident and she has been thru hell.

Andrea Rogers
4 years ago
Reply to  Marie

We are so sorry for your loss. We are doing follow-up stories on these issues. Thank you for sharing, and it is kind of you to maintain friendships with those in need.

MamaBess
4 years ago

My own parents, who were both diabetic and had heart disease, chose to live in California to escape the cold New England winters. After a few short years, I knew that they were isolated and not capable of caring for themselves, but they refused to come back to the North East. I had a disabled child at the time that needed all my attention for his physical needs, so I was unable to be a part of their California desert life. Eventually, I found that there were unsanitary conditions, and a cousin was taking money from them on a weekly basis. I had called the CA. Dept. of Elder affairs and had them run well checks. This included a home visit with interviews. At this point my father was blind, neither of them could drive, and my mother was hoarding to a degree of mental disorder ( entire rooms filled with items, desert animals taking up residence). What was the conclusion? ” Your parents are fine, they choose to give money to your cousin due to her financial needs, and they are choosing to live as they do. We can’t do anything to help”.
After 4 years, my father passed away. My mother stayed in CA. and continued to hoard. I found out she was spending her entire pension check taking care of my cousin, who lived on the East Coast, and was missing dialysis appointments. I again asked the authorities to check on her. Again, the response was ” she is entitled to live as she chooses and give money to whomever she chooses”. Finally, after 4 days of not being able to get in touch with my mother, I sent a friend to check on her. She was found lying in filth, unable to call for help after a heart attack due to her phone being shut off. She had paid all my cousins bills and had no funds left to pay her own. At THAT point, the state decided she was too ill to make decisions and was going to put her in a nursing home. I asked a niece, who had a husband in the military and a new child, to intervene and take physical custody of my mother. My niece took her into her own home and nursed her, Then set her up in assisted living. I then was in contact with the state’s Attorney General, and had a no contact order issued for my cousin, who had wiped out my parents entire savings.
My mother never regained her health. After laying on the floor for 4 days waiting to die, she lost her home to foreclosure, and never was able to get back to her baseline health. She passed away only six months later. This is what calling the proper authorities did for my parents. I know for certain that depending on the government to do the job of the family, is certainly not a good thing. I am so thankful to my niece for her help, and have no illusions that the “proper authorities” will be of any help in such situations.

Andrea Rogers
4 years ago
Reply to  MamaBess

We are very sorry for your loss. We are planning follow-up stories on issues such as yours. It is so difficult to manage care long distance, but when agencies who we should be able to trust betray us or don’t do their jobs, our elderly loved ones suffer. Thank you for sharing your story!

Irv C
4 years ago

The Medicare system IS elder abuse. Charging outrageous fees for part B and what they call Advantage Plans (a cruel joke) I will most likely pass away because our POS Gov forces me to pay what I DONT have. If this is happening to me then it’s happening to millions. This too is elder abuse. The Gov who I paid taxes to for 51 years has their plan to cull all but the most wealthy. Had I known when I was young I would have renounced my citizenship. Fascism is just that under any name.

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