Concordia Home Care and Nursing Services LLC Concordia Health Mobile Lab
Elder Abuse and Neglect
Participants will be able to:
• Define different kinds of abuse and neglect
• Identify symptoms of caregiver stress that could lead to abuse or neglect
• List ways to prevent abuse and neglect
• Recognize signs of abuse and neglect
• Know how to report elder abuse and neglect
Elder abuse: Any mistreatment or neglect of an elderly person. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect.
There is no acceptable excuse for abuse and neglect of the elderly, but recognizing and preventing the problem of caregiver stress may help prevent some elder abuse.
Ways Elders Are Abused
- Psychological abuse – Causing emotional or psychological pain. Including isolation, verbal abuse, threats, and humiliation.
- Neglect – Failing to provide something necessary for health and safety, such as personal care, food, shelter, or medicine.
- Physical abuse – Using physical force to cause physical pain or injury.
- Rights violations – Confining someone against his or her will, or strictly controlling the elder’s behavior. Includes improper use of restraints and medications to control difficult behaviors.
- Financial abuse – Stealing or mismanaging the money, property, or belongings of an older person. Also called exploitation.
- Sexual abuse – Forcing sexual contact without the elder person’s consent, including touching or sexual talk.
- Other ways elders are abused:
• Denying aids such as walkers, eyeglasses, or dentures
• Dirty living conditions
• Inadequate heating and air conditioning
Are You an Overly Stressed Caregiver?
Do you agree with the following statements? Assess yourself and choose between “yes” or “no”
1. I am frequently unable to sleep because I have so much on my mind.
2. Most of the time I don’t feel very good.
3. I have difficulty concentrating and often forget to do routine tasks.
4. I feel depressed or sad much of the time.
5. I feel worried and anxious almost all the time.
6. I lose my temper easily and become angry at other people.
7. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me; I just wish everyone else would stop doing things that upset me.
8. Most days I feel irritable and moody, often snapping at others.
9. I feel tired almost all the time, and just drag myself through my days.
10. I’m too busy to do anything fun or to go out with my friends.
Any “yes” answers could be a sign of excessive stress. More than three “yes” answers should prompt you to talk to your supervisor or physician about the way you are feeling.
Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect
As our population ages, the elderly start becoming frail and may suffer hearing and vision loss and become unable to think as clearly as they once could. This leaves them open for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them.
Types of elder abuse include:
• Physical abuse
• Emotional abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Neglect and abandonment by a caregiver
• Financial exploitation
• Healthcare fraud and abuse
Be concerned if you see an elderly person showing the following new behaviors or signs:
• General signs of abuse:
–– Becoming withdrawn, unusually quiet, depressed, or shy
–– Becoming anxious, worried, or easily upset
–– Refusing care from caregivers
–– Not wanting to be around people and not wanting to see visitors
• Physical abuse signs:
–– Unexplained burns, cuts, bruises and cleeding
–– In a woman, vaginal bleeding or bruising of the genitals or thighs
–– Sprains or fractures
–– Unreasonable or inconsistent explanations for injuries
–– Frequent emergency room visits
–– Caregiver refuses to allow the nurse to see the patient alone
–– Patient refusing to be seen by a doctor for wounds
• Emotional abuse signs:
–– Belittling, threatening, or controlling behavior by the caregiver in your presence
–– Behavior from the patient that mimics dementia; i.e., rocking or mumbling
–– Patient becomes withdrawn or frightened
–– Patient is depressed, confused, or lose interest in things previously enjoyed
–– Patient has difficulty sleeping
• Sexual abuse signs:
–– Torn or bloody clothes, especially undergarments
–– Sexually-transmitted diseases
–– Bruises, especially around the breast and genital region
–– Bleeding from the vagina or anus
• Financial abuse signs:
–– Items or cash are reported missing from the home
–– Withdrawals from back accounts that the patient cannot explain
–– A new friend who is helping with shopping or finances
–– Missing financial papers
–– Unpaid bills, utilities that are being shut off or debt collector calls
–– Unnecessary goods, services, or numerous subscriptions
• Healthcare fraud signs:
–– The patient complains about duplicate billing for the same service provided
–– Evidence of the patient being over- or under-medicated
• Signs of possible neglect:
–– Weight loss, malnutrition, or dehydration
–– Insufficient clothing, shoes, or basic hygiene items
–– Missing or broken dentures, eyeglasses, walkers, etc.
–– Medications not filled or taken Doctor visits not scheduled or kept
–– Unclean appearance or smell
–– Skin ulcers or sores
–– Missing medication
–– Unexplained declining health
–– Unsafe living conditions (e.g., no running water)
While most of these things are controlled in an institution, it is possible for any of them to occur anywhere. Abusive or neglectful caregivers can be professionals as well as family members. It is important for everyone to be alert to the signs.
Reporting Abuse and Neglect
Anyone who knows of an elderly person being abused or neglected is obligated to notify the proper authorities. Reporting procedures vary by state. Home health staff who suspect abuse of a patient by either a family member or another professional caregiver should first report it to their supervisors. You should become familiar with any statements of rights that your state has issued to protect homecare patients—ask your supervisor for a copy.
Every state has an office or department that deals with abuse and neglect of the elderly. There are different names for these offices: Human Services, Adult Protective Services, Health and Welfare, Department of Aging, etc. This is the place to call when you know of or suspect, elder abuse or neglect.
You can help prevent abuse and neglect by:
• Listening to the patient and caregivers
• Intervening when abuse or neglect is suspected
• Educating the patient and caregivers on how to recognize abuse and neglect