Caregivers, Abuse, and Elders


by Aliya Grey

Elder abuse is a serious and critical issue to address when considering any cargiver for the elderly, be it an at-home service or a care giving facility. Abuse can be either physical or emotional, and sometime the caregiver can be completely unaware he/she being abusive towards the patient.

One of the considered main causes of caregiver abuse is caregiver depression and stress. Physical abuse constitutes as a non-accidental force against the elder resulting in pain or injury. Emotional abuse causes the elderly person emotional distress, using intimidation, humiliation, or ignoring the individual to bring pain.

Other forms of abuse can include sexual abuse, abandonment by caregivers, using the elder's assets for exploitation, and healthcare fraud.

There are warning signs to notice that could indicate emotional abuse from a care provider. For instance, if a noticeable change in personality from the elder occurs, the root of the change should be investigated. Likewise, if arguments are frequent between the caregiver and the elder, abuse could occur.

Warning signs to look for when suspecting physical abuse include changes in physical appearance, such as weight loss or malnutrition, signs of injury like bruises or welts, signs of being restrained (like marks on the wrists), medication overdose/under-dose, or the caregiver refusing for you to be alone with the elder.

Preventative measure is the best precaution to take to eliminate elder abuse. The best way to find a caregiver who fits your needs is to analyze what exactly your needs are. Write a job description addressing your professional needs for the cargiver candidate , times/hours need per week, years of experience, and personality expectations. Be thorough and concise in your job description.

Write a list of questions you want to be sure to ask of your candidates. Ask for references and be sure to check with each one to see if the caregiver is, in fact, a good candidate for the position. As well, be sure to get a background check on those you are seriously considering hiring. When choosing the best candidate for hire, be sure to choose wisely. Look for caregivers who have experience with the ailments that may affect the elder needing care. Lastly, be sure to consistently monitor the elder's progress and care. Any signs of abuse or neglect should be investigated immediately.

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Finding a caring, professional in home caregiver or health professional can be a challenging task. You want to be sure that that the person you are bringing into assist with everyday needs will provide quality care. Quality doesn't mean just showing up, it means being there emotionally to help keep spirits high and improve quality of life.