Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

Elder Abuse on the Rise

What can be done to protect seniors from elder abuse?

A lack of caregiver training is contributing to a rise in elder abuse as our society ages. In fact, a recent AARP study found most caregivers received little or no training to conduct services like medical or nursing tasks, such as providing wound care.

What is elder abuse?

The National Center on Elder Abuse defines these incidents as a series of intentional actions that harm or cause a serious risk of harm to an elderly person. As people grow older, the risk for abuse increase. Moreover, older women may suffer more abuse than men.

One fundamental problem is that there is underreporting of incidents of elder abuse, even though there has been an increase in abuse cases being reported. In fact, it is estimated that only one in 14 cases is brought to the attention of authorities. One reason for this is that the caregiver is often the abuser.

This stems from the complex relationships among family members and other pressures that often result in neglect of an aging parent. The pressure of providing (often full-time) care can result in frustration, anger, and even depression that can manifest itself in abuse.

What can be done about elder abuse?

Caring for the elderly can be an emotional challenge and decision-making can be difficult, especially when the parent is unable to participate.

Currently, training is not a requirement to care for an aging loved one, but there are organizations that provide training services for family caregivers. Experts in elder care are also calling for more specialized training in this area.

One critical need is to recognize problems with care transitions for patients being discharged from hospitals to home and long term care facilities. This issue is becoming the focus of lawmakers trying to make these transitions easier for caregivers and safer for patients. In fact, patient care transitions are the focus of legislation (known as The CARE Act) being supported by AARP in a number of states.

Becoming a caregiver requires training to keep aging parents healthy and safe, and incidents of elder abuse may require legal representation.

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