Elder Abuse Awareness – Part 2

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As a follow-up to June’s post, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, here are a couple of informational pieces that shed light on statistics, types of abuse such as psychological and financial, and the complicated nature of the relationship between a caregiver and their loved one. As disturbing as many of these cases are, it’s imperative to be aware of this demeaning and often injurious behavior that not only has been found to occur in nursing home environments but in the family home as well. The current statistics are that 1 in 10 seniors experience some form of elder abuse. An unknown number of cases go unreported.

In June 2015, Forbes magazine reported on a story called “The Dark Side of Caregiving” which recounted a case that drew media attention involving the wife of Casey Kasem who was charged with elder abuse by her adult step-children. That case never made it to court as there was “insufficient evidence” to follow through with legal action. Kasem’s children alleged that their step-mother, Jean Kasem, prevented them from seeing their father after she moved him to a convalescent facility in Los Angeles, CA. Ultimately Kasem’s longstanding health issues made it impossible to determine if any deliberate wrongdoing had transpired.

The Kasem story is an example of how complex these situations can become when a family member is tasked with ongoing care for a loved one. What appears to be abuse may in fact be a deteriorated condition precipitated by a series of preexisting health complications. The stress that accumulates over time simply can’t be taken as a given. Stress compounds any situation that has unique challenges at the outset. For example, restricted access to quality health care, limited resources, and emotional issues can trigger outbursts of anger and impatience. Without the proper support those situations can unravel into psychological abuse. Then there are the cases where the signs are more apparent (physical abuse or neglect).

The Huffington Post recently published a piece, Elder Mistreatment, that emphasizes the importance of regular screening of patients to discern signs of abuse. It also suggests “Third Party Strategy” in cases where intervention from a legal standpoint can help reduce these incidents. As well, it underscores the critical need for widespread awareness and professional training for health care professionals who can better detect subtle red flags.

Please visit our Resources & FAQ page for more information where we’ve listed the link to Nursing Home Abuse Center.

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