Elder Abuse – Do You Know What to Look For?

Elder Abuse Awareness

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

This day was conceptualized in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse to promote awareness and understanding of the prevalence of elder abuse across the globe. In this blog, we explain some signs of abuse, and what you can do if you see or suspect it’s happening.

Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults suffer some kind of abuse.

Some signs of abuse can be obvious and easy to spot. When an aging adult is being physically abused, you might see things like broken bones, bruises or welts, or cuts and scrapes. But there are less obvious signs of abuse in a lot of cases. Financial abuse or exploitation is a perfect example of this. There may be signs such as large sums of money missing from bank accounts. Or the senior may be “gifting” monetary compensation in exchange for companionship. Perhaps the senior no longer has access to their financial records and accounts. This particular type of abuse is one of the most common.

On average, older Americans lose 2.6 billion dollars a year to financial abuse and exploitation.

Along with financial abuse, neglect is another of the most common types of elder abuse. Physical signs of neglect include bed sores or pressure wounds, or a lack of necessary medical equipment. You may also notice a case of neglect if the senior has poor hygiene, or weight loss due to a lack of proper nutrition. Dehydration and unsafe living conditions are also indicators of neglect in aging adults. Neglect isn’t always intentional. If the individual doesn’t have a support network, the neglect may be circumstantial, but it still needs to be addressed.

Another type of abuse that doesn’t present physically is emotional abuse.  If you notice your loved one’s caregiver speaks to them in a demeaning, dismissive, or aggressive way, if they don’t allow you to be alone with your loved one, or over explain concerns about injuries or social withdrawal, don’t brush it off. Be concerned. If you notice something, say something.

You might question what’s going on behind closed doors if your loved one seems hesitant to speak freely to you, if they seem withdrawn, or express new anxiety, depression, or fear.

If you find yourself questioning whether or not an aging adult is safe in their situation, there are things you can do to help. First, if the abuse or danger is immediate, call 911. If you’re not sure, but suspect abuse or neglect, call your local Adult Protection Services agency. You can make your report anonymously, and they will follow up with you once they’ve investigated the situation.

None of us ever want our loved ones to be in a situation where they are vulnerable to abuse. While it’s generally not possible to be with our parents or grandparents 24 hours a day, we do have the option of bringing in a caregiver to help. But you want to be sure that person is someone you can trust. At A Place At Home, all of our caregivers are fully vetted with background checks and drug testing, and are bonded and insured to ensure you can be confident in the safety and well-being of your loved one. To learn more, visit us here.

10 Tips for Navigating the Holidays and Alzheimer’s

A Place At Home Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer’s this holiday season? While being a caregiver is both challenging and rewarding, the holidays bring some special challenges and require a prepared, proactive approach.

Here are 10 tips to help you navigate the holidays while caring for someone with Alzheimer’s:

1. Find Ways Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s Can Be Involved

Just because your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t necessarily mean he or she can’t be involved in the holiday celebrations. Even if it’s something simple like packing holiday tins with cookies, assisting in decorating or wrapping gifts, or signing and sending greeting cards – it can mean a lot to the person doing it.

2. Write A Holiday Wish List 

Some holiday gifts can be inappropriate or even dangerous for someone who has Alzheimer’s. So, take the time to create a wish list for your loved one this season. Get ideas from your loved one and others who know him/her, cross off anything that wouldn’t be a good idea given your loved one’s condition – and share the list online. Check out these gift ideas.

3. Let Others Know What To Expect This Holiday Season

Be sure to keep the whole family informed on all developments in your loved one’s Alzheimer’s condition. Let them know what he/she can handle and what he/she can’t. For example, patients with Alzheimer’s tend not to do well in conversations with multiple voices all going at once – one-on-one conversations are best.

4. Maintain Routine As Much As Possible

People with Alzheimer’s generally need to follow a pretty strict routine. It helps them avoid confusion, disruption, and needless stress. Thus, while there will be special events during the holidays, regular day-to-day activities should be maintained at all other times.

5. Consider A Holiday Lunch Or Brunch Instead Of Dinner

Alzheimer’s symptoms may be more prevalent during the evening hours, and it’s just harder on them to have guests over for a dinner party as opposed to earlier in the day. See if you can have people visit for a holiday lunch or brunch at Mom or Dad’s house instead of the (usually) more traditional dinner gathering. Or check with the Assisted Living community as sometimes Holiday meals may be offered.

6. Be Creative With Introducing New Holiday Traditions

Most of us tend to get stuck in a holiday rut, as it were, and the very thought of changing old holiday traditions may seem unsettling. But new traditions can be founded that accommodate the family member with Alzheimer’s and the fact you are spending a lot of time caring for him/her. Watching a favorite holiday movie together or meeting at a special restaurant are some examples.

7. Simplify The Holidays To Reduce Stress

As a caregiver, you will have less time to deal with the holidays than you may have had in the past. You don’t have to “skip” the holidays, but you probably do need to scale things back a bit. Little things like doing your Christmas shopping online or using gift bags instead of wrapping paper will save time and reduce stress.

8. Know Your Limitations & Ask For Help

Nothing can be more stressful than trying to do what you don’t feel qualified to do or what you simply can’t find the time to do. Ask other family members to help as needed and go to professionals for timely assistance and for help with anything outside your field of expertise.

9. Consider Holiday In-Home Care

You may not want to have your loved one move into a senior living community, or at least not yet while their condition is not too far along. De-stress the holidays by hiring in-home care and giving your loved one some special attention while you run errands. Contact A Place At Home – Omaha to learn how we can help your loved one during the holiday season and beyond where needed.

10. Join An Online Support Community

Finally, 10 tips are never enough – you need more! So be quick to join an online Alzheimer’s caregiver support community or talk with other caregivers to “pick their brains” for ideas and find resources, support, and encouragement!

In the end, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for you and your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Remember that regardless of any memory issues your loved one lives with, it’s still important to include them in holiday events.

Depression in the Elderly: 9 Ways to Help

Depression in the elderly

Elderly depression can become a serious issue during the holiday season, yet this is a busy time. You may have fewer opportunities to visit your senior loved ones personally. During the holidays, older relatives with limited mobility may feel especially “blue”, sad or lonely. Happily, there are many things you can do to help the older people in your life to avoid elderly depression during the holidays or anytime.

  1. Invite your relative out, plan regular group outings or visits: Seeing others and staying active helps fight depression. Take seniors to a reading group, movies, the local senior center and encourage crafts or similar interests. This provides social and mental stimulation, and something to look forward to.
  2. Consider Tai Chi: Tai chi is a gentle, graceful form of exercise many seniors may enjoy. This exercise can help with coordination, balance and agility and it’s often done in a group.
  3. Give an inscribed photo and wallet: Carrying photos of loved ones can help stave off elderly depression. Giving these items can help get the senior into the habit.
  4. Ensure they eat healthy meals. Bad eating habits or lack of eating can make depression worse.
  5. Tell them you care. Talk to your relative and let them know they are important in your life. Never dismiss how they feel or think/say “snap out of it.”
  6. Be sure medications are taken: Remind/help your loved one remember to take necessary meds. Set up a system, like a daily pill holder, so they won’t forget or double dose.
  7. Inform the doctor: If depression seems to hang on, and your relative allows you to talk to their doctor (or accompany them to an appointment), let the doctor know. Consider getting a referral to a mental health professional for individual/group treatment.
  8. Watch signs of suicidal thoughts. Seek immediate professional help if you believe a senior you care about is contemplating suicide.
  9. Take care of yourself as a caregiver: You may need breaks or assistance caring for your senior relative. Be sure to reach out for this help, so you can be there for your loved ones in future.

Companion Care to Prevent Elderly Depression

At A Place at Home, we offer companion care services in the Omaha metropolitan area. We ensure that your senior loved one enjoys visits from a helpful, caring individual familiar with senior care. We can help you with the above anti-depression tips and much more. Contact us today.

“The two different caregivers I’ve had come as often as they can and I like that because I get to work with the same people. If I’m upset, they notice it and they keep me from getting depressed.”
– Tammy A 04/03/18
Current Client