“What to look for during your annual visit to elderly relatives” by Mary Twomey MSW. Thanks, Mary and the Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect
Special thanks to Mary Twomey, MSW, Co-Director, Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse & Neglect for this wonderful article.
For many of us, the holidays offer a once-a-year time to visit with elderly relatives who live at a distance. These holiday visits are a good time to assess what assistance parents or other elderly loved ones might need. There are many things to consider. Does an elderly loved one require help with chores or housekeeping, personal care, shopping and meal preparation, money management, transportation, medical checkups, or medications? Are they isolated or, do they live with others? If living with another, are they dependent on that person for care? Is that person an appropriate caregiver? During your visit, keep an eye out for warning signs of self-neglect, or abuse or neglect by others. If, before you make your trip, you suspect that your loved one needs extra assistance, plan a longer stay so that you can visit local aging service organizations during regular work hours. Allow enough time during your visit to accomplish necessary tasks.
Make the most of your visits by taking some private time with the elder to discuss future planning. Allow time for them to express anxieties. You can decide together what needs to be done and who can help. Be observant while you are visiting. Realize that you may need to arrange a visit to a doctor for a full evaluation.
Remember that 75-90% of elder abuse is committed by family members. Don’t let denial become an obstacle to planning that could prevent future emergencies. This is not the time to hide your head in the sand, setting the stage for future regrets. Some warning signs of elder abuse are:
Self-Neglect – If the senior lives alone and does not have anyone providing assistance, self-neglect may become an issue. Some things to look for include:
• Senior appears confused
• Senior is no longer able to handle meal preparation, house cleaning, laundry, bathing, or timely bill payment
• Senior seems depressed
• Senior is drinking too much or is overusing drugs
• Senior is falling frequently
• Senior appears undernourished, dehydrated, under-medicated, or is getting care for problems with eyesight, hearing, dental problems, continence, etc.
Neglect or Abuse by others – If the senior lives with others or ostensibly has people helping with care, neglect or abuse may become an issue. Some things to look for include:
• Presence of “new best friend” who is willing to care for the senior for little or no cost
• Recent change in banking or spending patterns
• Caregiver isolates older person from friends and family
• Caregiver has problems with drugs, alcohol, anger management, and emotional instability
• Caregiver is financially dependent on the older person
• Family pet seems neglected or abused
• You find an abundance of mail and/or phone solicitations for money (“You’re our lucky winner!”)
• Senior seems afraid of the caregiver
• Senior has unexplained bruises, cuts, etc.
• Senior has “bed sores” (pressure sores from lying in one place for too long)
• Senior appears dirty, undernourished, dehydrated, over- or under-medicated, or is not receiving needed care for problems with eyesight, hearing, dental issues, continence.
What should you do?
• If you suspect your older loved one is at risk, call your local Adult Protective Services or Office on Aging or go to www.centeronelderabuse.org for more information.
• Seniors may not be aware of a gradual decline and may be reluctant or unable to plan for needed care. Support and guidance from family members can help prevent serious accidents and/or future health complications. Noticing and correcting problems can help keep seniors safely in their homes.
• Learn more about common geriatric conditions, medications and markers of abuse. Refer to Geriatric Pocket Doc, a compact guide book for non-physicians. For info, visit www.centeronelderabuse.org and click Geriatric Pocket Doc in the bottom right corner.
• Introduce yourself to responsible neighbors and friends. Give them your address and phone numbers in case of an emergency.
• Ask your elderly loved ones directly if they are afraid of anyone, if anyone is taking things without their permission; if anyone is asking them to do things they are not comfortable with, or if anyone is putting them down.
Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect: www.centeronelderabuse.org. A program of the University of California Irvine, the CoE conducts research, training, advocacy, and direct services on the issue of elder abuse and neglect.
Eldercare Locator: Since 1991, the Eldercare Locator, a nationwide toll-free service provided by U.S. Administration on Aging, has helped older adults and their caregivers find local services for seniors. You may visit the website at www.eldercare.gov or speak to an Information Specialist who has access to a database of more than 4,800 entries. The toll-free Eldercare Locator service operates Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern time) and can be reached at 1-800-677-1116.
AARP: AARP provides caregiving worksheets and tips on “Long-Distance Issues” http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/planAhead/long_distance_issues.html
Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect
University of California, Irvine Program in Geriatrics
Join me as I interview Bennett Blum, MD, “Undue Influence – How Seniors are Being Manipulated and Abused by their Families,” on Sept. 12th at 11AM PST
Join me as I interview Bennett Blum, MD, “Undue Influence – How Seniors are Being Manipulated and Abused by their Families,” on Sept. 12th at 11AM PST. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/kindethics/2011/09/12/bennett-blum-md-undue-influence–a-danger-for-seniors
Bennett Blum, M.D., is an internationally acclaimed physician specializing in both forensic psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. An expert on the evaluation of undue influence and associated manipulation tactics, Dr. Blum has consulted on hundreds of legal cases throughout the United States and internationally – including the precedent-setting United Nations trial of General Pavle Strugar. This was the first full competency hearing at an International War Crimes Tribunal since Nuremberg.
Dr. Blum has worked with major US Government agencies, law enforcement, and research institutes on the prevention, investigation, and litigation of issues related to undue influence and coercion. In 1999, he was the only mental health expert asked to testify at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s hearing on Fraud: Targeting America’s Seniors. From 2002-2004, Dr. Blum was a technical advisor to the Research Triangle Institute for its national study on elder financial exploitation. This study was the basis for the Administration on Aging’s “Financial Exploitation of Older Persons Report.”
In 2005, Dr. Blum participated in an invitation-only policy development conference for the White House Conference on Aging. In 2009, the U.S. State Department sponsored a lecture by Dr. Blum at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the forensic psychiatry analysis of undue influence claims in war crimes trials.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of University of Arizona, Dr. Blum received his medical education from the University of Arizona and psychiatric training at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a forensic psychiatric consultant to the litigation-consulting firm of Park Dietz & Associates, Inc. (http://www.parkdietzassociates.com/). His work has been published by the National College of Probate Judges, State Bar Associations, and in major medical textbooks -including sections on elder abuse and undue influence in the seventh, eighth, and ninth editions of Kaplan and Sadock’s Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. Dr. Blum’s work on undue influence assessment is also available in Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Psychologists – published jointly by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging and the American Psychological Association.
Have a kind and respectful day.
Dr. Solomon Liao from the Center for Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at UCI, “Recognizing the signs of abuse and taking action” on Sept. 21, 10AM pacific,
r. Solomon Liao from the Center for Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at UCI, “Recognizing the signs of abuse and taking action” on Sept. 21, 10AM pacific. blogtalkradio.com/kindethics
Dr. Solomon Liao is an Associate Professor, Medicine School of Medicine and the Director of Geriatric Education at the School of Medicine University of California, Irvine. The Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect at the UCI School of Medicine, Program in Geriatrics, funded by the Archstone Foundation.
Locally, the Center of Excellence provides medical, forensic, and victim services to abused and neglected seniors and serves as a “living laboratory” of innovative approaches.
Statewide, the Center of Excellence serves as a central source of technical assistance, best practice information, multidisciplinary training, useful research, and relevant policy issues in California.
The Center of Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect serves through:
Direct Services – The Center of Excellence provides medical assessments, forensic evaluations, interdisciplinary case planning, linkages with existing resources, and the identification of available and needed services in Orange County.
Technical Assistance – The Center of Excellence provides statewide technical assistance to elder abuse programs in California. Two types of technical assistance will be offered: case consultation and program development/replication assistance.
Connecting Practice and Policy – To make a sustainable improvement in the field of elder abuse, it is crucial to connect practice and policy. The Center of Excellence uses the knowledge gained through a systematic and sound evaluation process to educate those in a position to make policy decisions.
Conducting Research – Through the faculty of the UCI School of Medicine Program in Geriatrics, the Center of Excellence provides the bridge between direct service and academics. Research at the Center of Excellence is currently funded through the National Institute on Aging, National Institute on Justice, and the California Department of Health and Human Services.
Providing Education – The Center of Excellence guides the UniHealth-funded Elder Abuse Training Institute in identifying California’s most pressing training needs in elder mistreatment. Multidisciplinary experts conduct discipline-specific training seminars for law enforcement, legal, medical, and social service professionals.
To learn more about UC Irvine School of Medicine’s Program in Geriatrics and Dr. Liao’s work, please visit our Geriatric Medicine website http://www.healthcare.uci.edu/seniorhealth/geriatricmedicine/index.asp.
“Protecting the Nursing Home Resident – The job of the ombudsman” Interview with Molly Davies, August 18th, at 10AM pacific.
“Protecting the Nursing Home Resident – The Job of the Ombudsman” Interview with Molly Davies, August 18th, at 10AM pacific. Call in to listen live at (347) 945-5152 or listen online at blogtalkradio.com/kindethics.
After serving more than two years as a regional manager for the Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program, two years as an Ombudsman care manager, and two years as a volunteer Ombudsman, Ms. Davies was named Program Director of the LTC Ombudsman Program in October 2006. She manages the Los Angeles County and City LTC Ombudsman programs and serves as the designated LTC Ombudsman “program coordinator” per state contract requirement.
In her capacity as program director, Ms. Davies oversees all aspects of the WISE LTC Ombudsman Program, including program development, implementing LTC policy changes, monitoring budgets and promoting the program to the public. She and her staff ensure that service delivery complies with all regulatory and contract guidelines and the policies and procedures that govern the program. She is responsible for monitoring and reporting on program performance monthly, maintaining a tracking system for reports of alleged elder abuse and assessing client satisfaction. She is also responsible for recruiting, training and evaluating ombudsmen. Ms. Davies holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UCLA and is currently completing a master’s degree in Social Work at California State University Long Beach.
Have a kind and respectful day.