The Neglect of the Elderly With the growing number of senior citizens in our expanding society, abuse and neglect of the elderly is a widespread issue in our society. Neglect can come in many ugly forms and can be quite horrifying when actually investigated. When we as a society fail to meet the needs of our senior community we are only creating a perhaps dreadful prelude to our own inevitable destiny. Elder neglect is the failure to fulfill obligations to a senior citizen. According to one report, it accounts for 49% of elder abuse cases (Protecting the Older Adult, Nursing, July 2000).
Neglect comes in many forms. A caregiver is required to supply sufficient amounts of nourishment, a comfortable shelter, safety, security, medication, and personal requirements such as clothing and hygienic supplies to meet their basic needs. If these needs are not met it is simply considered neglect. Personal hygiene to maintain an elderly person’s dignity is paramount. If they are unable to bathe themselves or go to the bathroom on their own, they could end up sitting in their own filth for hours, resulting in painful skin burns, which is horrific.
Anyone would be reported to CSS if they did that to their infant children, therefore the same should apply to seniors. Soiled, foul-smelling bedding or critter infestations in the home of any kind are a sure sign of neglect. In nursing homes where the staff is mostly inadequate, residents are often neglected due to the facility’s desire to cut costs. Residents can become dehydrated or undernourished if staff does not ensure the elderly actually eats their meals and has ample fluids. Not enough time is spent with each person to see if they might need help in case they are unable to properly feed themselves.
Weight loss is an absolute sign that a resident might have a malnutrition concern. When residents have restricted mobility even a glass of water or tissue across the room could be impossible to reach. These kind of things need to be accessible at their bedside. Bedsores, also called decubitus ulcers, may be a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected in many ways. (Litigating the Pressure Sore Case, Lesley Clement, Forum Vol. 30 (6), August 2000). A resident that is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair must be repositioned at least every two hours in order to relieve pressure on specific areas.
Bedsores that are neglected or untreated can cause tissue to deteriorate becoming painfully infected. Prevention requires adequate staffing putting in time and actual effort. The fact whether the neglect was intentional or not is not the important issue, it is whether the safety of the resident has been compromised as in allowing a resident with Alzheimers to roam unsupervised outside the facility. Staff may be more susceptible to elder abuse if they are stressed by too many responsibilities, are deficient in training, work under deprived conditions or just not suited to care giving in nursing homes.
Many elders who are cared for in the homes of their family members, who are responsible for their direct care, are also being abused through neglect. This type of neglect is harder to detect. Friends and members of the family might just chalk up signs of abuse to the fact that the elder might be showing signs of dementia or just basic old age syndrome. Elders may not be able to stand up for themselves in abusive conditions especially if they are frail and not thinking, seeing or hearing as well as they used to. They depend on their caregivers to assist them.
Family members who are not trained in care giving may tend to feel irritated and overwhelmed at times, taking out their frustrations on the elder. This can lead to emotional abuse consisting of intimidation by yelling, blaming or humiliating them. Ignoring elders or isolating them from friends and activities is also considered abusive. The demands and the needs of illness and dependence can generate circumstances in which abuse is more likely to occur. These distressing feelings can spiral as the elder’s condition consistently deteriorates.
The pressure of elder care can lead to health issues, mentally and physically, making caregivers impatient, possibly depressed and easily burned out. I had taken care of my husband’s grandmother who was in her eighties for years. She had a mild stroke and also the onset of dementia. I would go in her room in the morning and find all her things packed up and ask her what she was doing. She would reply “I’m ready to go home now”. It was difficult for her to understand that she was home since she didn’t recognize our home sometimes. She would also call me by her daughters’ name that was deceased.
The hardest part was when she began to have accidents in her bed. I had put her to bed one evening and my sister-in-law came over and asked to see her. I was shocked when she came out to accuse me of not taking care of her because she was naked and covered in her own feces. I was stunned, but sure enough when I entered her room, there she was in all her glory trying to clean up her mess. Needless to say it took a great deal of assuring my sister-in-law that it was very unique incident and I was more than a capable care giver, however, I felt quite mortified at that moment.
Failing to take care of their basic needs represents more than half of all elder abuse cases reported. If there is an elderly person who you have known for a while and recently something just doesn’t seem quite right, for instance, they might have bruises, lost weight, seem on the edge, or show frequent tension when it comes to their caregiver, pay closer attention to what is going on in their life as these could be warning signs. Caregivers who are pushed beyond their ability or psychological resources may not mean to mistreat or ignore the needs of the elders in their care, but it is still abuse and needs to be addressed.
Most elders do not report abuse out of fear of retaliation from their caregiver or believing that they will have no other place to go. To prevent elder abuse people need to take more of an effort by educating others, listening to seniors and intervening if abuse is suspected by reporting it. Always remember that when it comes to our elders, we need to care about the current state of their lives, because a life saved today, maybe be your own down the road. References http://www. elder-abuse-information. om/abuse/abuse_neglect. htm Lester, J. D. , Lester, J. D. , Jr. , Reinking, J. A. , & von der Osten, R. (2010/2011). Strategies for writing successful research papers (Custom ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Wietz, Rose (2010). The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Healthcare. A Critical Approach (5th ed. ). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Learning Center Pringle, M. , & Gonzales, J. (2010). The APA style of documentation: A pocket guide (Custom ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.