The elderly population in the United States is at higher risk for abuse than some other age groups. Some elderly people have medical problems that they need help with. These problems make them vulnerable to abuse. This may make their caregivers frustrated. This frustration could lead to abuse later on in their life. Common reasons for elderly abuse that will get explained here.
Dementia is one big issue that can lead to elderly abuse. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Some reasons for abuse of elderly with dementia are:
- Staff may be less able to communicate well with people with dementia. This results in people’s needs not being met.
- Staff may not know how to follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act. For example, assuming that the person with dementia does not have capacity is an issue. Another issue is not involving the person with dementia and career in decision making.
- Staff may not provide person-centered care to people with dementia. This can happen for those who experience behavioral and psychological symptoms. If a staff member exhibits aggression or frustration it can make the resident worse. It can also result in inappropriate care. Some examples of inappropriate care are the use of antipsychotic drugs or physical restraint.
Another reason for elderly abuse in nursing homes is having understaffed facilities. When there is a nursing home with a lot of residents, it is common for some of them to get neglected or abused. The staff may be overwhelmed with their work since it will be hard to keep up. They can get frustrated and take it out on the residents. They also may try to divide up their time between all the residents. This might not leave enough time for each patient. This could lead to each patient getting rushed care.
Along with understaffing, there could be overworked staff. Taking care of an elderly person is a hard job to do. Nursing home employees must ensure that the resident has everything they need to be comfortable. This could be anything from giving medication to helping them get to the bathroom. If they were only caring for one person, it would not be so overwhelming. But, most of these people are working in a setting with multiple patients. It can be hard to keep up with every resident. This leads to residents getting neglected. If the staff is too busy with one resident, other residents’ health can be neglected.
Some nursing home employees might be under qualified. Staff members might not have proper training to care for the residents in their facility. Nurses have to go to college and graduate from a nursing school in order to be fully qualified. But, there is not as much training required for health aides. They usually get trained in the place they have been hired. If there are not enough people to train the newly hired aides, they might try to help patients without training.
Stress of the Job
The staff in a nursing home is under a lot of stress from day to day. They are responsible for taking care of someone whose family has trusted them to provide care. This is scary because they know what their loved one needs from day to day and now they have to learn the things that the residents were used to before coming to the home. This stress could lead them to take out their emotions on the patients by abusing them or just leaving them there on their own. This should not be a solution for them, but often, it will happen. The staff may not even realize they are doing it until it is too late.
Staff in a nursing home obviously has a life outside of their work. They might have problems at home or they might even have medical problems of their own. One issue that staff can have that causes neglect and abuse of their residents is emotional or psychological issues. The nursing home cannot discriminate against someone because they have a mental problem so they can still be hired by the home. Their problems might cause abuse or neglect on a resident. It might not be intentional but it is still no excuse. They should learn to control their problems before taking care of someone that they can cause a lot of damage to.
Today there is a social stigma present about many cultures or groups of people. Many people today might view the elderly differently from everyone else. This might mean that the people employed have bad feelings about their patients and treat them differently than they would someone of a different generation. They could abuse them because they don’t like the way they act or talk. Or they might neglect them because they don’t even want to be in the same room with them for extended periods of time. This social stigma should be something that is considered before hiring someone.
These common reasons for elderly abuse are important to be aware of. Before making the decision of putting your loved one in a nursing home, you will want to consider these issues and time to find a home that doesn’t have them.