The most effective prevention programs use a combination of strategies to protect vulnerable elders. In 2002, the National Center on Elder Abuse commissioned a review of prevention research related to abuse in nursing homes and other long term care settings. Strategies identified in the literature include: Assure coordination between law enforcement, regulatory, adult protection, and nursing home advocacy groups. Support education and training in interpersonal caregiver skills, managing difficult resident care situations, problem-solving, cultural issues that affect staff/ resident relationships, conflict resolution, stress reduction techniques, information about dementia, and witnessing and reporting abuse.
Improve work conditions, through adequate staffing, enhanced communication between direct care and administrative staff, more time to nurture relationships between staff and residents, humane salaries, opportunities for upward mobility, and greater recognition, respect and understanding for the difficult lives many workers lead. Assure compliance with federal requirements concerning hiring of abusive nurse aides. Promote environments conducive to good care .
Assure strict enforcement of mandatory reporting, as well as educate professionals and the public (non-mandatory reporters).
Improve support for nurse aides (support groups).
Support and strengthen resident councils.
Assure that hiring practices include screening of prospective employees for criminal backgrounds, history of substance abuse and domestic violence, their feelings about caring for the elderly, reactions to abusive residents, work ethics, and their ability to manage anger and stress.
Ways to Stop Elderly Abuse
1. Improve your knowledge of the types of elderly abuse.
Abuse may be: physical, psychological, sexual or financial. Know the signs of abuse: bruising, depression, depleted finances, signs of neglect or change in mood and behavior. The elderly person might act in a fearful way in front of the abuser. In addition, the abuser might be mocking or sharp with the elderly person.
2. Improve services to elderly people and caregivers.
Develop an understanding of factors that might make abuse more likely. These include: isolation of the abuser and caregiver, lack of involvement by others, substance abuse or a history of violence in the family. Relatives should have a support network, including respite care, which allows them to take a break.
3. Put in place a clear policy on abuse in care settings.
All staff should be familiar with the policy, and relatives and residents should be given a copy. Train staff to a high standard. Do not rely on overtime or have a high turnover of staff. Support caregivers and make them feel valued. Develop clear guidelines on how to treat and speak to residents.
4. Ensure that an elderly person’s finances are in order, taking legal steps, if necessary, to protect her assets.
Review her care because her condition might deteriorate, and her increasing needs might make the caregiver’s burden too difficult. Raise general awareness on this subject so that it is openly discussed
5. Talk About It
If you know, or reasonably suspect that abuse is taking place, you must not keep this to yourself. Ask the elderly person outright, but do not persist in the conversation if this upsets him. Discuss the issue with another trusted family member. If the abuse takes place in a nursing home, make an official complaint to your local Elderly Services Department. The nursing home should also have a complaints’ procedure: documented and readily available to residents and their relatives. However, you may not have complete faith in this, particularly if you believe that more than one staff member is involved.
1. Legal Measures
You can seek legal advice from an attorney who specializes in elderly care. You may need to ensure the elderly victim’s immediate removal from her present home. If another family member is the abuser that person may need to be ejected from the home. The protection of the elderly person should act as your primary goal. You may need to inform the police and/or step in yourself and become the elderly person’s temporary care-giver.
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