Thursday, June 17, 2010

Preventing Elder Abuse

Tuesday I wrote about reporting Elder Abuse; today I'll focus on prevention tips.

For the Older Person:
  • Avoid isolating yourself. Isolation can lead to loneliness, sadness, and depression, leading to the increased possibility of abuse or neglect, including self-neglect.
  • Maintain a strong network of friends and social contacts
  • Keep in touch with old friends and neighbors, even if you move
  • Develop a buddy system with a friend outside of the home, i.e. check in on each other regularly to make sure there are no problems
  • Ask friends and family to visit you at home
  • Participate in activities with friends and within your community
  • Volunteer if you're able
  • Get legal advice regarding your will, Power of Attorney for Health Care, as well as Property, Living Will, etc.
  • Review your wishes with your listed POA periodically to ensure you're on the same page
  • Review your will periodically
  • Assertively express your wishes and how you will or will not be treated by those around you
  • Arrange to have your Social Security and/or pension checks deposited directly into your bank account
  • Add your name and number to the national "Do Not Call Registry"
  • Don't live with someone that has a history of violent behavior or substance abuse
  • Don't sign a document unless someone you trust has reviewed it
For Families:
  • Maintain close ties with aging relative and friends, check in with them regularly
  • Listen to what the older person tells you.  Offer advice but don't dictate.
  • Find sources of help and use them, i.e. geriatric case manager, community resources
  • Consider your family's ability to provide long-term, in-home care.  List the pros and cons.
  • Don't offer to be a personal caregiver or to bring the older person in to your home unless you thoroughly understand the demands of caregiving and can meet the responsibility and costs involved 
  • Seek out caregiving training if you choose to care for the older person in your home
  • Explore alternative sources of care, i.e. long-term care facility, assisted living, adult daycare
  • If a hired caregiver or long-term care facility is caring for the older person, stay involved and observant to ensure quality care. Vary the time and day that you visit.
  • Anticipate that someday your loved one will be incapacitated and figure out now what the best plan of care will be, ask them what their wishes would be
  • Pay attention to your own limitations and set boundaries.  Take regular breaks, line up outside professionals or family/friends to provide respite.
  • Don't expect family problems to disappear if the older person moves in to your home, if anything, they may intensify
  • Consider counseling for yourself and/or the older person if behavior problems become an issue
  • Don't limit the older person's independence or unnecessarily intrude on their privacy
For Communities:
  • Develop new ways to provide direct assistance to caregivers
  • Ask other community groups to become more involved in Senior Service programs
  • Encourage public and private employers to support caregivers, such as through Family Medical Leave programs, flex time, etc.
  • Publicize support services that are available, as well as accessibility to professionals
  • Train public agency employees in initial response and case management
  • Provide training for direct service employees
  • Recognize that many forms of elder abuse are crimes
The National Center on Elder Abuse explores some of the causes and how to prevent them for fully in their booklet: Preventing Elder Abuse by Family Caregivers.  

Do you have any other tips on prevention?

No comments: