By Hook Law Center
Elders are among the most vulnerable populations, and they are at special risk for abuse at the hands of their caregivers. Caregiver stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to elder abuse, and stressed-out caregivers are the most likely to abuse.
Depression and anxiety are common among caregivers, who often provide hours of care each week for years on end. Caregivers face about twice the risk of developing depression and anxiety as the general population.
Caregivers often face social isolation due to the time commitment associated with caregiving. Even caregivers who take their elder into their own home still experience financial strain as a result of the caregiving. Caregivers often neglect their own physical and mental health because of the numerous other demands they face.
Addressing these stressful issues can help prevent elder abuse from occurring. Self-care methods like eating well, exercising and using stress reduction techniques can help give caregivers the energy to provide good care for their loved ones. Support groups and counseling can help caregivers to manage stress and other emotions in healthy ways.
Additionally, caregivers should be willing to ask for help. They should be aware of resources in the community and make use of them as needed. Friends and family may be able to stay with the elder for a few hours, or a local respite care agency can provide temporary care. Elders can also spend the day at adult day care. Caregivers should be able to reach out when overwhelmed. That ability reduces the likelihood of elder abuse.
Friends and family members of caregivers can help to take the stress off overextended caregivers. Regular visits and offering to stay with the elder so that the caregiver can get a break can have a profound impact.
By Hook Law Center
Older adults who continue to live independently at home will need a safe space in which to live. Making the home safe is essential for preventing injuries.
Each year, around 7,000 elderly people die in accidents at home, while millions more sustain serious injuries there. Falls are the most common cause of injury. Drowning in the tub and being burned by the stove or by hot water are also significant risks.
A home that is optimized for safety can allow older adults to continue to live independently for as long as possible. Visiting MySafeHome.net and taking the house tour is a great start for identifying potential home hazards. People with medical issues, such as poor vision or rheumatoid arthritis, can benefit from a home assessment by an occupational therapist (O.T.).
Many safety improvements are very simple and affordable. For example, removing any unsecured rugs and maintaining good lighting throughout the house and yard can prevent falls, as can maintaining a clutter-free home.
Other common safety improvements include the installation of stairway lifts for indoor stairs and threshold ramps and railings for the approach to the house. It may be necessary to install bars and a specially designed shower or bathtub.
Although health insurance should cover home assessment by an O.T., it will not usually cover home upgrades. However, people with long-term care policies may be able to get coverage for home modifications.