Midnight Sun Home Care is dedicated to providing the safest and most comfortable care to our elder clients. This involves addressing the very real threat of elder abuse. This month’s blog posts will focus on helping elders and their loved ones to recognize, prevent and end elder abuse.
Even if you have an understanding of what elder abuse is, the signs of it and what to do if you suspect it, it is always helpful to have resources that provide further support and insight. Luckily, there are many available that are designed to help address and prevent elder abuse in our communities.
Anyone who interacts with the elderly should access these resources, but it’s also particularly important that those who provide care to the elderly—whether as family or professional caregivers—have the support they need. Caregiving can be overwhelming and often emotionally draining, especially when you are caring for a loved one. And often, elder abuse comes from a caregiver, which means that giving caregivers proper support and tools will help them to recognize when or if they are unable to provide the right care.
Caregiver Stress and Burnout
As a caregiver, you need to be able to:
- Recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility
- Take care of yourself first
Essentially, you need to pay attention to your own needs and behavior. Letting your mental and physical health go unchecked can mean increasing health problems for you and decreasing ability to care for your elder. Nobody wins in that situation.
A Few Signs of Burnout
- Tiredness or feeling run down
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of resentment
- Neglecting of your own responsibilities and personal life
- Deprivation of leisure activities or self-care activity
What to Do
- Ask for help. Unless you are a super hero, you probably can’t do it all alone, all the time. Here are ways to ask for help:
- Speak up. Tell friends and family members what you’re feeling and experiencing. If you don’t, there is a good chance they won’t know. Express concerns, ideas and thoughts and don’t worry so much about how they will be received (although if you can avoid being grumpy about it, that will help).
- Share responsibilities. Try to get as many family members and loved ones involved as possible and determine tasks or responsibilities that they can take on.
- Find an accountability partner. Ask someone who is part of your community to check in with you on a weekly basis (or whatever set time works for you). This person can help you gauge how you are doing and where you need help. They can also help communicate this to other concerned family members and friends.
- Say “YES!” If someone you trust offers help, don’t hesitate to accept. People want to help, and letting them can make all the difference for you.
- Delegate, don’t micromanage. When you relinquish certain responsibilities to others, give yourself over to the idea that it doesn’t necessarily have to be done your way. It doesn’t mean you can’t guide or inform, just don’t be bossy about it.
- Seek respite care. There are plenty of professionals who provide exemplary care to the elderly. They can give you a few hours, a day, a week or more off from your duties—which gives you peace of mindand much needed time to refuel.
The important thing to know, whether you are a caregiver or simply involved in the life of an elder, is that there is help available that will empower you to prevent and end elder abuse.
In fact, in 2012, legislation was passed in the state of Alaska to provide more protection to our vulnerable adults. Alaska’s Adult Protective Services is a good place to start looking for more information and support.
You can also find data, information, articles, policies and other resources at the National Center on Elder Abuse.