Abuse is a topic that unfortunately I know too much about from personal experience. As a young child I was harshly abused. I did not know God because my family did not attend services. I was too young to have any real friends to whom I could turn. I just had to manage and survive. Later in life I had a lot of help from friends and God. As an adult I protect myself from getting into an abusive situation. Needless to say, I am very sensitive to this issue.
As a professional caregiver for the elderly, I find too many instance of abuse:
There are instance where the children or grandchildren take advantage of their “loved one” for their own gain, often stealing money from them and/or treating them with little or no compassion. The elderly person may feel defenseless, try hard to please and try to get whatever help their younger generation will give.
There are patients who have been very controlling their whole life. Now that they are in need of help the controlling behavior may heighten. They may be relentless on their demands and/or show lack of respect to their caregivers.
There are spouses who feel entitled to have the social life they’ve always enjoyed. They literally drag their ailing spouse to one social event after another, not caring whether the ailing spouse is comfortable, hurting or needs the security of remaining at home.
What are solutions?
While in my role as a professional, licensed caregiver it is my duty to first speak to the abuser, if he or she is the family caregiver. If the family caregiver does not listen, it is my obligation to then report the abuse to social services. If the abuser is the patient, it is my responsibility to try to ease the situation for either the family caregiver or one of my own caregiving employees.
I do know of one instance where a family had only a living father who had Alzheimer’s disease as well as some heart problems. Their father was so abusive; they did not try to care for him. They put him in one facility after another, because each and every facility would find a way to dismiss him from their care. Finally, they purchased a home for their father in a senior development. They hired several agencies (one after another) to send caregivers. Their father himself would fire them. This man finally died. However what a sad legacy he left behind.
If you see abuse, I urge you to first step in and try to correct the situation yourself. If you are unable to resolve the problem, I suggest you call social services so that they can help you resolve the problem. Certainly no one should have to experience abuse; especially not the young, the elderly, or the frail.