How to Stop Abuse of Elders by Caregivers

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • In my last sharepost I talked, in general terms, about the profile of people who physically and emotionally abuse elders with dementia. Many people, just like you and me, find themselves in very stressful and frustrating situations.  In this sharepost I want to concentrate on caregivers who look after a loved one within their own homes rather than on abuses that occur in care facilities. We will look at ways of stopping the abuse and getting help and support.


    I believe that if you are reading this sharepost it is because you may want to do something about your abuse or you want to help a close family member stop. You have taken a big first important step.

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    I suggest that getting help to stop the abuse is going to be the most successful. A professional with experience and insights into the causes, interventions and relevant treatments for you and the person you care for, can make the outcome better. Support often needs to be ongoing and they will know other agencies that may be helpful.


    Identifying what causes your abuse

    Your interventions will be more focused if you can identify what contributes to the abuse occurring. You will probably be able to identify a number of issues that are affecting your behavior. It may be your loved one’s aggressive or disruptive behavior ( a common precursor), it may be your social isolation, lack of any time out or time away from your role as caregiver, work stressors and trying to meet all those and family commitments. A recent death, financial worries, sleep difficulties, your own failing mental or physical health can obviously all affect your mood and contribute to the way you treat your loved one.


    Write a list with interventions that you feel will help. See your family doctor for advice about how you are feeling. Caregivers have a higher incidence of depression and anxiety and treatments are available. Your doctor may help with referral to other local support agencies.


    The Alzheimer’s Associations local chapter can offer help and guidance on local facilities, support groups, can provide education information. It always helps to know you are not alone in feeling the way you do.


    Learn new methods to cope better. Some caregivers have adopted improper care strategies such as shouting, pushing, pinching etc., to deal with behavior of a loved one. Often this occurs because at some time in the past the person with dementia has stopped the behavior and complied with your requests. Caregivers often believe that the person with Alzheimer’s is behaving badly to annoy them. The phrase ‘he/she knows what they are doing’ is not helpful. Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia causes profound brain damage and this means decision making is substantially impaired. Abuse will contribute to fear and thoughtless reactions by both parties and this does not help break the cycle of abuse.

    Improving your communication skills and getting your message across more effectively will help when you are helping them. 


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    Information on 4 most common causes of emotional distress for people with Alzheimer's


    It may be that the best solution for you both is to move the person you are caring for to an assisted or nursing care facility placement.


    If you are reporting abuse and you believe it is serious and sustained then you must get urgent help. All abuse is wrong but some types of elder abuse are sustained and ugly. The perpetrator exerts his or her power to get the person to do what they want regardless of the health or welfare of the person with Alzheimer’s.


    If you believe an elder is in a life threatening or dangerous situation you must call 911 immediately.


    The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) have a link to your local State resources with information on State reporting numbers, government agencies, State laws and State-specific data on elder abuse, in order to assist you both to report abuse or get help to stop your own


Published On: August 27, 2014