Monday, July 14, 2008

Elder Fraud and Elder Abuse, Part Two

Another excerpt from The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. Buy it now directly from the author.

Elder Abuse

People think:
"I care about my mother -- that's why I brought her home to live with me when she started to slip. But my own life is starting to fall apart. I just found out my husband is having an affair and my youngest son is failing in school. I'm afraid he might be abusing drugs. I'm at my wit's end and when my mother starts in with her criticisms and complaints I just want to shake her. I have never hit her but sometimes I don't come when she calls for help, and once I gave her an extra dose of pain medication to keep her in bed so I could get a moment's peace."

"I have no choice about being a caregiver and I hate it. My father was abusive to me when I was growing up and he's still a mean-spirited old man. But I can't afford to move out and taking care of him is the price I have to pay. Even though he's in a wheelchair and can't physically hurt me, I feel so angry with him that I just can't tolerate his demands at all. I just let him sit in his dirty Depends all day if he doesn't treat me right."

"I don't have the problems some people I know have with their relatives. If Aunt Mary doesn't do what I want I just threaten to send her to a nursing home and she shuts up."

Reality: None of these people think they are abusing their relative. After all they don't hit them. But under the law, the definition of elder abuse includes neglect, deliberate overmedication, and psychological abuse and threats.

The common thread in all of these examples is the caregiver trying to avoid feeling victimized by the circumstances of caregiving. The fact is: nobody can make you give up your own life against your will. If your own well-being (physical, financial, emotional, etc.) is eroded by caregiving it is time to ask for help. Call a family consultant at the Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center, a social worker at the Human Resource Agency or a case manager at Senior Network Services as a starting place.

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