Caregiver Support to Prevent Abuse
Elder abuse is an underreported issue with about 1 in 10 Americans 60+ years old experiencing elder abuse or mistreatment yet only 1 in 24 cases are reported to authorities. Elder abuse is often categorized into a few different types: physical, emotional, sexual, financial exploitation, and neglect (ncoa.org). Abuse can happen to anyone, by anyone.
A perpetrator of elder abuse is often thought of as being a stranger, but research has found that in almost 60% of cases, the abuser is a family member with two-thirds being an adult child or spouse. Abuse and neglect can occur with or without intention and one risk factor is caregiver burnout. Caregiving for a loved one can be stressful and with there being about 40 million informal family caregivers, majority of which do not receive any respite care, this can lead to abuse and neglect.
It’s essential to seek help early and prevent abuse from happening. There are caregiver support groups, adult day centers, and in-home respite options to give caregivers a break, personal care assistance, and more available. Call the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 616-456-5664 to learn more and get connected.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, mistreatment, or neglect, report it to Adult Protective Services at 1-855-444-3911. If your loved one is in a long term care facility, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program strives to improve the quality of care in these facilities and a report can be made at 616-245-9451. For more information on elder abuse and warning signs visit ProtectKentSeniors.org
Sources: National Council on Aging (ncoa.org) and AARP.org