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  • Writer's picturePam

Senior Abuse Is Not Always As Obvious As You Think

When people think about what senior abuse actually is they usually think about neglectful care such as ignoring their needs. Perhaps you have heard about things like bed sores and frequent falls in senior facilities or with a home caregiver. However, there are many things that happen with senior caregivers that are in fact forms of abuse but are not quite as obvious.

Abuse can happen from people who are uncaring and not good people and from well intentioned overworked people and this is the kind of abuse that often gets overlooked and ignored. Some examples of these types of abuse might be bringing your mom or dad back from a meal and telling them you will be right back to take them to the bathroom and then not returning. Perhaps they get caught up or distracted by something else however, a senior waiting to use the bathroom who can't do it on their own and is told I will be right back to take you is being neglected which is a form of abuse. Mom or dad may have been unable to hold their urine and were then forced to go in their pants. They are now sitting in their own urine. So now they had to wait, were ignored, are embarrassed and have lost some dignity all from one decision by a caregiver. This is a form of abuse and these are the kinds of things you need to be watching out for wherever you receive care so that you can speak up when they do.

I was just with my mom the other day in the morning. It was around 9:00 am so just after most residents were finishing breakfast. My mom lives in a facility where one floor is designated as the high assistance floor so those residents eat on that floor in their own dining room. I walked off the elevator and saw six or seven residents in their wheelchairs lining the hallway in from of the nurses office. I walked down and there were a few in the nurses office doing medication but the rest were all waiting to be taken back to their rooms. Clearly there are not enough caregivers staffed to handle morning activities. What was most upsetting was the nurse walks out and yells loudly in a very unpleasant voice, "What are all these people? I can't handle all this and someone needs to help." She yelled this in the hallway which is in front of the dining room. So all the residents waiting to be taken back and the people still eating all heard this yelling. I then heard a few people say she's so mean. I asked my mom about it as I decided to take her back myself since I was there. She said she yells like that to everyone all the time. She then said we are used to it. This is a form of abuse. It is considered both verbal and emotional. These are things that happen all the time at all facilities not just some. It is important to understand how to best prevent them and how to address them when they occur.

Make sure that you visit at different times of the day and be observant. Listen and watch other residents and how people are interacting. I listen to how others are being treated and what's going on whenever I am there. If you hear a caregiver being rude to a resident then what are they doing to your loved one when you are not there? When my mom tells me something that has happened I document it right away. I then send an email to the managers and the executive director explaining my concern and what happen. I stay on top of these things and even if something hasn't happened yet to change things which is quite common sadly, I have constant communication and documentation of concerns. This way I can escalate my issues to higher up staffing and I have records of how often these things were happening and how either something was or was not done to correct the problem. It can be frustrating but you must stay on top of things to make sure your loved ones and all seniors are being treated properly and with respect wherever they live. Everyone will be a senior at some point and will want that for themselves.

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