The common denominator among those who choose to practice in the field of geriatric medicine is an underlying compassion and concern for seniors that transcends all other factors. Adult and elder abuse is widespread, and a very serious issue. As a healthcare professional, it is my commitment to a person’s welfare to assist and report those being abused and neglected. I strive to promote public awareness, and serve as an advocate for the elderly. This issue is very near and dear to my heart, because I was brought up to respect, and preserve my elders. Since, my grandparents, and parents are getting older, I have made it my responsibility to meet their needs. It’s not always easy, but between my other family members we share the responsibilities, some more than others. Currently, I work on a Medical Surgical Unit, but have worked in home health, and triaged at two nursing homes. Although, I don’t claim to be an expert, my goal is to inform you on how to identify possible abuse or neglect. Share with you a few case studies that involve neglect leading into frequent illness, and sometimes death.
The Sadness in Geriatric Care Almost all households will have an elderly family member. In developing a plan to look into the potential problems of rapid aging, it is important to note that each individual undertakes personal responsibility to ensure successful aging for him/herself. The focus is on adopting a healthy lifestyle, developing strong family bonding and ties, sound financial security and adequate housing needs. In this way the burden to family, health service and future generation will be minimized. Each generation takes care of itself without passing on the burden to the next. It is not feasible for a declining working population to support an ever increasing elderly population. The aims of a geriatric service would not be to reduce the risk of deaths or prolong life but rather, maintain or improve the quality of life, reduce disabilities and promote independence. This can be achieved through prevention and early intervention programs, appropriate holistic medical care, effective rehabilitation, organization of support services and appropriate home placement. This all sounds great, but the reality in my experience is most of our elderly, are not getting that quality of life, most become in fact a burden to their families. There are services, and organizations out there, that serve to protect the Geriatric community.
One main group is called The National Adult Protective Services Association. Their mission is: improving the quality of services for victims of elder and vulnerable adult mistreatment. They are a nonprofit organization, strengthening APS at the national, state, and local levels. Meanwhile, trying to effectively and efficiently recognize, report, and respond to the needs of elders and adults, who are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and to prevent such abuse whenever possible. Some key things to look for that are signs or forms of possible abuse or neglect are (http://www.napsa-now.org/about-napsa): * Physical abuse: includes slapping, hitting, beating, bruising or causing someone physical pain, injury or suffering. This also includes confining an adult against his/her will, such as locking someone in a room or tying him/her to an object. * Emotional abuse: creating emotional pain, distress or anguish through the use of threats, intimidation or humiliation. This includes insults, yelling or threats of harm and/or isolation, or non-verbal actions such as throwing objects or glaring to project fear and/or intimidation. * Neglect: failures by individuals to support the physical, emotional and social needs of adults dependent on them for their primary care. Neglect can be in the form of withholding food, medications or access to health care professionals. * Isolation: restricting visits from family, friends or preventing contact via