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Elder Abuse: Dealing with an Abusive Caregiver

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Samantha Stein

Caregiving / / March 28, 2017

The prospect of being subjected to abuse as we grow older is a chilling thought, but what is even more terrifying is that it can come from the people we least expect it. After all, it does not just come from strangers. The reality that many older adults face is that elder abuse can come from their family members and loved ones.

By definition, elder abuse is the act of taking advantage of an older individual physically, sexually, psychologically, or financially. It even includes neglect and abandonment. Naturally, no individual would elect to be on the receiving end of such treatment, which brings the question that many people are now asking: How can elder abuse be prevented?

As we all approach the twilight years, we must take the necessary precautions to preventing elder abuse or address the issue in the early stages efficiently should it reach that level.  

The Prevalence of Elder Abuse

Studies show that 5 million people are affected by elder abuse each year, and 2 out of 3 victims are women. Moreover, elder abuse victims are four times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home and three times more likely to be hospitalized or die prematurely.

However, there is a big possible that more cases of abuse go undetected because only 1 in 24 cases is estimated to be reported to the authorities. The reason behind may be related to the elderly individual’s relationship with the abuser. As the study further states, 57% of physical abusers are spouses and partners. Although, staff at nursing homes are not far behind with more than 50% admitting to physical violence, mental abuse, or neglect of elderly residents.

Ways to Deal with an Abusive Caregiver

The idea of being a victim of elder abuse seems to be an impossible to many individuals, but it would never hurt to be prepared. As we grow older and tick out the boxes from out retirement checklists, we must also take active measures against elder abuse.

Realize the Importance of Long Term Care Planning

One way to remove or lessen the burden of caregiving on family members is to have a comprehensive long term care plan early. Having a secured plan ready to catch all the financial expenses can reduce the stress on family caregivers significantly.

This is one of the many reasons why long term care coverage is a must. As we grow older, we can look into a shopper’s guide to long term care insurance to make sure that we are getting the right type.  

Encourage Stress Reduction Methods

The demands of caregiving can alter a person’s life, and some are not able to cope with these changes successfully. The mounting caregiver stress that often goes unaddressed may trigger elder abuse.

As we transition to being care recipients, we also have to understand that caregiver burnout must be addressed early. As a care recipient, we can encourage caregivers to take active measures in battling the stress. Encourage them to take regular breaks in order to recollect themselves. If other family members are available to relieve them for a few hours, we can take the initiative to spend a day or two with them.

Acknowledge the Issue and Inform Other Family Members at Once  

Often, abuse victims find it difficult to accept what is happening, especially when the abuser is a loved one. It may be because of humiliation or fear, but some older individuals brush it under the rug and hope that it does not happen again. However, issues that do not get addressed often reoccur.

However, it does happen and individuals need to be informed of the risks. As we grow older, we must be aware of the risks. Learning about it and understanding the underlying causes could help in acknowledging the situation. And by acknowledging it, we get to address the issue head-on. Keep in mind that if abuse happens and it persists—no matter how insignificant they may seem—we inform other family members or the authorities at once. 

Categories: Caregiving
About The Author
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Samantha Stein is an online content manager for ALTCP.org. Her works focus on key information on long term care insurance, finance, elder care, and retirement. In line with the organization’s goal, Samantha’s work highlights the importance of having a good long term care plan and taking advantage of free shopper’s guide to long-term care insurance, not just for the good of the individual but for the safety of the entire family. 

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