WHAT ARE THE CAUSE AND PREVENTION OF ELDER ABUSE
According to the American Psychological Society, elder abuse is the infliction of physical, emotional/psychological, sexual or financial harm on an older adult. Elder abuse can also take the form of intentional or unintentional neglect of an older adult by the caregiver. Elder abuse has a variety of causes and family members and caregivers of senior adults must be aware of the causes of elder abuse to prevent it and keep senior loved ones safe and secure.
Elder abuse can occur for a variety of reasons and complex issues. Family stressors are one of the main reasons elder abuse occurs. Family members who are responsible for caring a senior family member, can often become stressed and run-down while dealing with the demands of caring. Besides, these family members often feel isolated and do not take the time to recharge. These factors can lead to elder abuse. A violent family past can also continue to hold on to family members and this can lead to elder abuse. Financial burdens of a multi-generational household can also lead to financial elder abuse.
Caregiver stress can lead to elder abuse. Care giving can create stress for the caregiver and the care recipient. This stress can lead to potentially harmful situations for a senior adult. If the caregiver is caring for a person who is sick or physically or mentally impaired, this can lead to stress that would cause a caregiver to abuse the care recipient. The caregiver can feel alone or helpless. Care giving can lead to emotional and physical stress and exhaustion. These feelings can be overwhelming and may lead to elder abuse.
Certain societal issues can lead to elder abuse. Often senior adults are viewed as insignificant or unimportant. This has in many cases lead to the devaluing of this population, making them easy targets from abuse. This can make seniors more vulnerable to elder abuse. This is evidenced by the fact that scams and financial abuse among the elderly population continue to be a major problem.
How can elder abuse be prevented? Education is one way that elder abuse can be prevented. Caregivers and family members must be educated about the risk factors and signs of elder abuse to prevent it from occurring. It is also important that families and seniors be aware of financial scams that target the elderly to prevent seniors from being taken advantage of financially.
Respite care is also an effective way to prevent elder abuse. There are adult daycares and respite care agencies available to provide care for a few hours a week to take the stress off of family members or caregivers. Respite care is especially important for those caring for patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia or are severely disabled. This gives the caregivers time to rest physically, mentally, and emotionally. Along with respite care, caregivers need to maintain social contact and support. Often caregivers are thrust into difficult situations for which they are ill-prepared. They often neglect social interactions. It is important not to neglect these interactions, and even to seek support from groups or people who are in a similar care giving situation. This can help to deal with stresses in care giving.
Counseling is another option for preventing elder abuse. Caregivers and families alike can benefit from counseling. Counseling can help families deal with past issues, as well as dealing with the emerging stress of care giving.
Knowing the causes of elder abuse and methods of prevention can help keep elders safe. Family members and caregivers should know and be aware of these. Elder abuse is a major problem and solutions must be found to protect our seniors.