Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder abuse prevention is a very serious issue, both in home care scenarios and in nursing homes. As anyone who has been a caregiver knows, it's not easy to care for anyone, young or old, on a daily basis without feeling some frustration, impatience, discouragement, or anger.

However, learning how to accept these feelings and divert them through other avenues is one of the best methods to prevent this issue. Abuse may be defined as physical, emotional or mental. Depending on viewpoint, elder abuse may also be financial, but regardless of what form it takes, abuse, or even suggestions of abuse may have devastating effects on not only be abused, but the abuser, other family members and social circles.

Identifying Warning Signs

Elder abuse prevention means being aware of signs that frustration or impatience will get out of control. In most cases, elder abuse is not random, but is the result of pent-up frustrations, feelings of resentment and anger, and long-term stress or pressure of caring for an elderly loved one.

Elder Abuse Prevention

Caregivers of individuals diagnosed with various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, may find themselves in an increasingly frustrating and difficult situations. It's easy to get angry when you're constantly following an elderly parent around the home, making sure he or she doesn't hurt themselves.

Caring for an elderly person with dementia is much like caring for a toddler who was unable to determine or rationalize safe from unsafe actions and environments.

Caregivers already stressed from family and work responsibilities may quickly find their patience running out, tempers, and anger bringing to the surface at the slightest infractions. Some of the most common warning signs that an individual is reaching a breaking point and may tip over the edge toward elder abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing impatience caused by overwork, stress, or lack of sleep
  • Increasing frustration regarding expectations
  • Bouts of uncontrollable anger
  • Increasing resentment
  • Increasing doubts regarding ability to care for a loved one

Elder Abuse Prevention Tips

Several resources and support systems may provide a deterrent to elder abuse. Health services and support systems go a long way in helping to relieve the solitary and often isolating burden of caring for a loved one at home.

Emotional health and support for caregivers is also important to help provide emotional and physical relief from the responsibility of caring for an elderly loved one 24 hours a day. Support groups don't have to be community organized, but maybe a group of neighborhood women, family or friends, or individuals that the caregiver may talk to, about their own frustrations and anger, and seek advice from the group.

Research has determined that caregivers under constant stress display higher levels of frustration and anger than those caring for healthy and mobile elders. Support groups are available to caregivers offering aid to those diagnosed with Alzheimer's, other forms of dementia, as well as those bedridden or limited in function and ability due to a variety of illnesses or disease processes.

Some support groups are provided by community health care experts and professionals, while others are begun by caregivers themselves. Religious organizations and congregations may also provide a welcome outlet for caregivers.

Elder Abuse Prevention

If you believe you, as a caregiver, are feeling increasingly resentful, angry or frustrated with your care giving responsibilities, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not you may be close to the breaking point.

  • Does everything my father, mother, or loved one do annoy me?
  • Do I spend more time fuming then interacting calmly with my elderly charge?
  • Does my heart rate accelerates, my hands clench, and my temper rise dramatically in stressful situations?
  • Do I find myself wishing I could throw an object to vent my frustration?
  • Do I wish bad thoughts on my loved one?
  • Have I become more physically forceful with my elderly parent or loved one?
  • Have I resorted to locking my loved one in his or her room, ostensibly for their safety, but more for my peace of mind?

Any of these questions might help a caregiver determine whether or not he or she is stressed to the breaking point. Any rough physical contact, verbal abuse, or emotional or physical neglect are indications that abuse is present in a care giving relationship.

Elder Abuse Prevention - Getting Help

It's often difficult for caregivers to ask or reach out for help. Shame, self disappointment and a feeling of failure often go hand-in-hand

with feelings of resentment, anger and disappointment with our day-to-day role of caring for an elderly parent or loved one.

However, the ultimate goal when caring for a loved one is to ensure that he or she is safe, comfortable, and well cared for, both emotionally and physically. Caregivers who feel they may be reaching the breaking point need to take responsibility for their actions and take steps to avoid elderly abuse before it occurs.

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