People want to live long, happy lives. They want to enjoy watching their kids grow up and welcome their grandkids into the world. Many hope to live a long time with their spouse or partner, have a successful career, and enjoy all of life’s other pleasures.
If you have an older adult in your family, though, you sometimes have to figure out how they can transition from a completely independent lifestyle to one where you or other caretakers help them. Maybe they can move in with you and your family.
If that’s not possible, you will probably have to look into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Not many older adults can live independently until their life’s end.
When you put an older relative in a nursing home or assisted living, you must watch out for elder abuse and neglect. If you do not know what those things are and how they’re different, read on.
What is Elder Abuse?
The National Council on Aging states that in the US, every year, there are almost five million elder abuse cases. Elder abuse:
- Might involve physical abuse
- Could involve psychological or sexual abuse
If you put your older relative in assisted living or a nursing home, it is elder abuse if an orderly or some other employee hits them, kicks them, pinches them, etc. It is also elder abuse if an individual takes away their food or medication, yells at them, threatens them, or otherwise intimidates them.
Some elder abuse cases even involve rape or sexual assault. Some elder abuse situations involve various financial exploitation methods, like taking advantage of a mentally incapacitated older adult and misusing their money or property.
What is Elder Neglect?
Elder neglect is something that happens fairly frequently, as well. Elder neglect:
- Often involves ignoring a nursing home or assisted living facility resident’s basic care
- Can happen for weeks or months with inattentive relatives
It is elder neglect if the nursing home or assisted living facility staff don’t give residents their medication or enough nutritious meals. It’s also elder neglect if they don’t bathe them or help them engage in activities.
It’s elder neglect if the staff does not monitor them if they need round-the-clock care. If they make a serious medical error, that is elder neglect that can cause death or diminished capacity.
Elder neglect during the pandemic is widespread, often in the form of not wearing masks or keeping a facility clean. That has caused many elder deaths in the past year.
What’s the Difference Between Them?
The real difference between elder abuse and neglect is that, with abuse, the nursing home or assisted living facility staff actively harms the residents. This is a malicious action. They might hit the residents, steal from them, sexually assault them, berate them, etc.
With neglect, the staff might simply ignore the residents. They may not give them their medications regularly, give them nutritious meals, make sure they exercise, and things of that nature. This isn’t as bad as intentionally abusing the residents, but it can be just as harmful.
How Can You Prevent This from Happening?
One way you can attempt to be sure elder abuse and neglect never take place is to look into a facility before you move your older relative there. You can never tell about a facility for sure, but if you do some research, you can at least find out if there have been prior issues or lawsuits.
You can also go take a careful look at a facility before you leave your relative there. You can bring them along and get their feedback. If they don’t want to stay there, and they have valid reasons for wanting to choose another option, listen to them.
Once they live there, you can also go to visit them frequently. If you don’t live close by, you can call or text them often.
Right now, with Covid-19 concerns, you might not be able to go see them in person, but you can certainly do FaceTime, call them, text with them, or exchange emails, depending on how tech-savvy the individual is.
You have to watch out for elder abuse and neglect. You would want your relatives to do the same thing for you when the time comes.
The way most individuals get away with this sort of behavior is when families do not pay attention. If you stay a part of your older relative’s life, it makes these situations less likely.
GUEST WRITER: Susan Malony is an avid writer, traveler, and overall enthusiast. Follow her at https://twitter.com/sumelony