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Elder Abuse Ė Causes and Prevention

Whether intentional or unintentional, elder abuse is just as bad as child abuse. Most victims of elder abuse canít help themselves and are just trying to enjoy the relaxing time of their lives. What could cause someone to hurt a senior citizen?

When neglect and abuse occurs in the home of an elderly person where the caregiver is a family member, this family member may become frustrated with caring for an elderly person. They lash out and attack due to this frustration. Maybe the caregiver feels like they were forced to do this and lack the funds or too much pride to place the elderly in a nursing home or other care facility.

In nursing homes or other types of facility, abuse usually happens due to a few factors.

1. Under staffed
2. Lack of education in the staff members
3. Staff is burned out or stressed by demands of their jobs

Depression is high among the caregivers in a nursing home setting. My biological mother worked in a nursing home while I was a kid. I volunteered on several occasions so I got to see things first hand. I donít recall any instances of abuse but the morale of the staff was low. They were underpaid, worked long hours, and had a lot of responsibility. While this isnít an excuse for abusing the patients, if I at the age of 10, 11, and 12 years old could see it, why didnít their bosses and managers see it and do something about it?

New federal laws have been put in place to protect elderly in nursing homes or other facilities similar to these. A quick check of your state government websites can give insight into these. If you suspect elder abuse, call someone. If you donít feel comfortable telling the person in charge of the facility or care of the person, there is a national hotline you can call and they can hook you up with the person or agency you need to talk to in your area. Call Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. The National Center on Elder Abuse has a quick and handy state locator here.

Preventing abuse can be as simple as providing more educational opportunities for those who care for our age population. If caregivers feel they are being taken care of themselves, this can make a huge difference. If you know someone who is caring for an elderly relative, offer to spend time with that person and give the caregiver a break for a bit. Sometimes all a caregiver needs is a small break to get away from the stress of day to day life with the person they are responsible for. Speaking up for our elderly when they can not speak for themselves will help. Many cases of elder abuse go unreported because no one says anything. If you suspect it in the slightest, call someone. Educating elder folks on what is abuse and that they can speak up for themselves will help as well. Contacting an Ombudsman to help you may prevent further abuse.

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