In an ideal world family members would always take care of an aging loved one who requires assistance. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that just doesn’t happen as much as it should. Elder neglect, failure to fulfill a caretaking obligation, constitutes more than half of all reported cases of elder abuse. It can be intentional or unintentional, based on factors such as ignorance or denial that an elderly charge needs as much care as he or she does. Sometimes, neglect is simply a result of a caregiver becoming overwhelmed.
Caregivers who are overwhelmed.
If you’re overwhelmed by the demands of caring for an elder, try the following:
- Request help, from friends, relatives, or local respite care agencies, so you can take a break, if only for a couple of hours.
- Find an adult day care program.
- Stay healthy and get medical care for yourself when necessary.
- Adopt stress reduction practices.
- Seek counseling for depression, which can lead to elder abuse.
- Find a support group for caregivers of the elderly.
- If you’re having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help.
Factors which increase the likelihood of neglect.
- Learning or memory problems.
- Long term condition, such as dementia, diabetes, paralysis, or stroke.
- No relatives or friends who can take care of her/him.
- 75 years of age or older.
- Difficulty getting along with others.
- The caregiver depends heavily on the elder for things such as money or housing.
- The caregiver drinks alcohol or uses illegal drugs.
- The caregiver has a personality disorder, depression, or another mental illness.
- The caregiver has a history of family violence, such as physical or sexual abuse.
- The caregiver has stress due to work, taking care of the elder, or financial problems.