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To help prevent elder abuse, address caregiver stress as it emerges

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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.

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Posted on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014. Filed under Estate Planning.