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How To Protect Loved Ones From Elderly Abuse

Update Date: Apr 01, 2019 10:18 PM EDT

People everywhere are living for longer than ever before, which has resulted in a spiking demand for elderly care and medical facilities across the nation. Despite the increase in the number of Americans relying on elderly care services, however, many are still falling victim to cruel service providers who subject innocent senior citizens to horrid elderly abuse. Rather than standing idly by and doing nothing as seniors everywhere face elderly abuse, younger citizens should take steps to learn the common signs of abuse and what to do when it occurs.

Here's how to protect your loved ones from elderly abuse, and what you need to know about this unfortunate trend as the population ages more and more.

Most nursing homes are run for-profit

It's an important fact that most nursing homes are run for-profit in the United States, as many people don't consider the motivations of those taking care of their elderly relatives as they grow sick and incapable of caring for themselves. While some people mistakenly believe that nursing homes exist to provide excellent care and nurturing support for seniors as they pass into their final days, they really exist to turn a profit and are thus liable to exploitation. The CDC estimates that at least 69 percent of all nursing homes in the United States are for-profit, with nearly one and a half million residents in nursing homes already. In recent years, the population has grown older, too, meaning this figure is likely low by modern estimates.

Just because a nursing home is a for-profit operation doesn't mean it's treating its senior citizens cruelly, or that it's particularly susceptible to elderly abuse. Nonetheless, it's a simple fact that the motivations of healthcare providers need to be taken into consideration when mulling treatment options, and many nursing homes cut costs wherever possible to provide for more patients. Horror stories of some nursing homes and elderly care facilities being ransacked by managers looking to cut as many costs as possible make the blood run cold - after all, cutting costs in elderly care often leads to elderly abuse.

Elder abuse, or the intentional harming or failure to act that causes harm to an old person, is usually relied upon when the victim in question is above 60 years of age. Elderly abuse can occur in many ways, shapes, and forms, however, so it's important that those who are just entering their senior years understand the ways they could potentially find themselves getting abused. As the CDC points out, there are many types of elderly abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. Unfortunately, financial abuse is common because many seek to exploit the elderly for monetary gain, especially when aged minds begin to wander.

Spotting and preventing elderly abuse

If you're interested in spotting and preventing elderly abuse, you should become aware of the common signs it could be occurring or is about to occur. You should always know who is around the elderly patient in question, and what kind of treatment they're receiving; becoming intimately familiar with the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of your elderly relatives is always advised. Something as simple as introducing yourself and having lunch with a healthcare professional can help you add them to your network and develop a personal relationship that could improve the quality of care your relatives receive.

In 2008, one in every 10 elders reported some form of elderly abuse, so be aware that this problem is unfortunately rampant in modern society. As the global population continues to age and the number of seniors continues to put strains on the healthcare system, we can likely expect this grim figure to tick upwards, too. You should always be ready to listen to elderly patients above all else - sometimes, they simply need someone to talk to. Far too often, elderly voices go unheard when they're sounding the alarm about abuse and suffering.

Don't be afraid to have regular feedback sessions with your elderly relatives about the quality of the care they're receiving. When elderly people withdraw from their normal activities, talk about feeling isolated, or rarely have opportunities to escape their care facilities they could be suffering from a heightened risk of elderly abuse. Knowing how to respond to elderly abuse begins with putting your foot down whenever you discover it - a no tolerance policy is absolutely necessary.

Know the legal remedies at your disposal if someone you love suffers from elder abuse and be aware of the common signs to help prevent it from happening in the first place.

Above all else, be confident that elderly abuse is a preventable occurrence that can be mitigated with society-wide efforts to crack down on abuse in the healthcare system. As we grow older and older, more attention must be paid to elderly abuse, especially as it morphs into financial crime and physical abuse.

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