For many of us, the holidays offer a once-a-year time to visit with elderly relatives who live at a distance. These holiday visits are a good time to assess what assistance parents or other elderly loved ones might need…During your visit, keep an eye out for warning signs of self-neglect, or abuse or neglect by others…plan a longer stay so that you can visit local aging service organizations during regular work hours. Allow enough time to accomplish necessary tasks.
Take private moments with the elder to discuss future planning. Allow time for them to express anxieties. Be observant while visiting. Realize you may need to arrange a doctor visit for a full evaluation.
SELF-NEGLECT If the senior lives alone, some things to look for:
Confusion, depression, overuse of drugs or alcohol, frequent falls, no longer able to handle meal preparation, house cleaning, laundry, bathing or bill payments. Senior appears undernourished, dehydrated, under-medicated, or is not receiving adequate care for eyesight, hearing, dental, or continence problems.
Remember that 75-90% of elder abuse is committed by family members. Don’t let denial become an obstacle…This is not the time to hide your head in the sand, setting the stage for future regrets.
NEGLECT OR ABUSE BY OTHERS Some things to watch for:
Presence of “new best friend” willing to care for the senior at little or no cost. Recent change in banking or spending patterns. Senior seems afraid of the caregiver, has unexplained bruises, cuts, or bedsores; senior appears dirty, undernourished, dehydrated, and is not receiving necessary medical care. Family pet seems neglected or abused. Caregiver isolates older person from family and friends, and may have problems with drugs, alcohol, anger or emotional stability.
Opportunities for Action:
* If you suspect your loved one is at risk, call your local Adult Protective Services or Office on Aging and go to www.centeronelderabuse.org for more information. The Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Negect, is a program of the University of California Irvine. It conducts research, training, advocacy and direcct services on elder abuse and neglect.
*Eldercare Locator is a national toll-free service that helps older adults and caregivers find local services. Visit the website at www.eldercare.gov, or call 1-800-677-1116.
* Learn more about common geriatric conditions, medications and markers of abuse. Refer to Geriatric Pocket Doc, a compact guide book for non-physicians; found at centeronelderabuse.
*Introduce yourself to responsible neighbors and friends. Give them your contact information
* Ask your loved ones directly if they are afraid of anyone, if anyone is taking things without their permission, if anyone is asking them to do things they are not comfortable with, or if anyone is putting them down.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO OFFER THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS, CONTACT:
Joan Fenton at email@example.com. 602-451-7926, Elder abuse prevention classes are available.
Short Article for Bulletins:
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Watching for signs of elder abuse.
A holiday visit with elderly parents and other elderly relatives offers an opportunity for family members to evaluate how well their loved ones are doing. Do they live alone, or have a caregiver? Are you seeing signs that indicate self-neglect or caregiver neglect or abuse?
Check E-Focus for more information on related resources and opportunities for action.
Contact Joan Fenton for classes on elder abuse and neglect: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and Justice Network
Presbytery of the Grand Canyon