By Alycia Gordan, Guest writer,
The Open Mind
Elder abuse is a topic that is not talked about much. Believe it or not, elder abuse does exist, and sometimes it is deliberately done and sometimes not. Caregivers usually have a lot on their plate, so there may be times they are too busy to take care of their charge. For example,
they may give dinner to their charge a bit delayed; they may not have time to check if the patients are staying properly hydrated, or that their sanitary needs are being met.
There are two types of caregivers, one is the professional, and the other is known as a family (informal) caregiver. Both of these care-takers really do want to look out for the elderly person that they take care of. However, there are times those people on the receiving end become abused; physically, emotionally, and sometimes even sexually. Caregivers will sometimes deprive their patients of basic vital needs.
Sometimes the types of abuse that happens, for example, physical abuse, is easy to detect. However, abuse that is mentally traumatizing may be a little more difficult to identify. Patients are sometimes made fun of, bullied, intimidated or even sworn at, and for this reason, may not want to speak out for fear of getting hurt again. This happens a lot when an elderly patient lives in a caregiving facility or takes part in an adult day care program, or in a nursing home.
Over the years there have been quite a few laws that have been passed to protect the elderly patients under caregivers. So that way, if those who are caregivers do not provide sufficient upkeep that has been set by the law, can get charged with negligence for elderly care. These laws pertain to the governance, ethics, regulations, and quality standards that have been outlined for hospitals, home care services, and facilities for aided living services.
As mentioned before, there might be times that caregiving practice may be too much and burdensome for some people, which may end up causing too much stress. That means their mannerisms and actions towards their patients may be coming out harshly and negatively. They could not be fulfilling their duties towards the elderly because they are tired, or they become hot-headed and seem to communicate threateningly. All these things are considered a form of abuse or abandonment.
All these thoughts are terrifying. An elderly patient could be your parent or someone you love dearly that is going through these frightful forms of exploitation. However, if you try and understand all types of abuse that can happen, you will be able to identify it, and then you can prevent it.
The first and foremost thing for any dementia caregiver is to understand what causes dementia. Only then can they focus on how to help their charge lead a fulfilling life.
Below are a few types of abuse and the characteristics of the aftermath
Physical abuse is by far the easiest form of mistreatment that is immediately detectable. It has more clear visibility and can be portrayed in the form of bruises, scars, burn marks, cuts, broken bones, or other forms of physical injury. This may happen through incredibly harsh chastisement, giving incorrect or excessive medical drugs, or using too much restraint that could be done both ways – physically or drug abuse.
The signs of physical abuse are
Bruises, marks, and scars on various parts of the body that are covered by clothes.
Some of the older patients have osteoporosis, and their bones can be on the brittle side, therefore, can get broken bones easily due to mistreatment. However, broken bones can also happen due to being mishandled on purpose.
The skin can be burnt due to cord injuries, cigarette butts, or using boiling hot water to bathe them.
Sharp tools or items or even fingernails can be used to make cuts, abrasions, nicks, marks, and even scars.
Sometimes there can be internal injuries and lacerations, and they have symptoms that you can’t see. For example, internal bleeding, vomiting, loose motions, blood in urine or stool, tummy or headaches.
As given by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Legal Definition of sexual abuse is:
1) a: the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion
b: the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity
2 ) the crime of engaging in or inflicting sexual abuse
Below are some occurrences that can be deemed as sexual abuse:
Slow and prolonging touches in the no-go areas, such as the inner thighs, breasts, and behind.
Harm done to a person’s to private parts, butt, chest, or mouth.
Showing their own private parts to the person receiving the care.
Pornographic pictures being shown to the resident.
STDs, lacerations in or near the genitalia, discharge of blood in the underwear.
Sometimes when a caregiver is neglecting his or her duties, they are endangering the welfare of the person they are in charge of giving care. Sometimes negligence can be done accidentally or on purpose, which can lead to permanently injuring the patient mentally or physically.
Signs of negligence are:
The members of the staff are ignoring the patient or leaving them alone.
Leaving alone a set of residents who are known for their aggressive tendencies.
A caregiver sleeping on the job or is heavily under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Not notifying the care receiver’s medical complications to their medical team so that the problem can be fixed immediately.
Unfortunately, emotional abuse is the most problematic type of abuse to detect. This type of abuse comprises of injuring a person’s self-image, or state of mind.
Some signs of emotional abuse are:
The caretaker is constantly yelling, verbally abusing, and threatening the receipt.
Not allowing the care receiver to converse with others.
The care receiver is drastically behaving depressed, subdued, and quiet.
Protecting Against Abuse
Whether it is a domestic caregiving circumstance or in a professional institution, you as a care-provider, need to be extra vigilant and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of abuse that your loved ones are likely to receive in these situations.
Just make sure that their caregivers are not ones with an addiction problem, excessive family problems, are not absent a lot, have prolonged sickness, financial problems, or are controlling, and lastly, they should have a solid track record.
In case you are worried about early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia, be sure to use this MCI test for early diagnosis and results.
About the author:
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia
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