June is the month dedicated to raising awareness for abuse of the elderly. Elder Abuse Awareness Month is tackling a huge, important issue since many seniors are being abused. The abuse can be physical, financial or emotional.
According to HelpGuide.org, over half a million reports of abuse of elderly Americans are made to authorities each year. It's believed that many more instances are never reported.
Elder abuse can take place in an older person's home. Caretakers in an institution can be the perpetrators. Scam artists can get at them over the phone, via computer or at their front door. Sadly, many cases of abuse are at the hands of family.
Abuse is not always actively done with force. It can also be neglect. The senior is not fed, not kept clean or warm, not kept safe, not given proper medical care.
Want to be more aware of elder abuse? Want to be able to pick up on the clues when it may be going on around you? HelpGuide.org offers suggestions of possible indications that an elderly person is being or has been abused.
Do you see changes in personality or behavior? Is there noticeable tension or friction between the older person and their caregiver?
Has the older person lost weight? This can be a sign of malnutrition or dehydration because of not being fed properly.
Are they dirty, or are their clothes dirty? Are glasses broken and over time not repaired and taken care of?
Are they seen wandering around on their own when they shouldn't be?
Do you see signs of possible restraint, like rope marks or bruising on wrists or other parts of the body? Do they have bedsores?
Not everyone who abuses the elderly will seem like bad people. Often they are just people who can't handle the pressures and responsibilities of looking after someone who is frail and unable to take care of themselves.
But this does not change the fact that our seniors must be protected from such treatment, no matter what the reasons for it.
If you see something that looks like abuse may be going on, it's your responsibility to report it so that it can be stopped. Don't turn your back, we all need to become more aware of signs when vulnerable people are mistreated.
We will all become old one day, if we are lucky enough. Any of us can end up helpless. Let's protect those who are in need of help now.
June is Elder Awareness Month, be cognizant of their situation. LancasterEagleGazette.com. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
Elder Abuse & Neglect. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca
Reviewed June 19, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN