Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Caregiver Abuse

An American site, which provides a place for caregivers to talk about issues, vent, and share the things they have learned. A new issue I have heard about in the USA, is false accusations of Elder Abuse! In a post entitled: 'Elders that control caregivers after their death', I read
Like many others, I really lived two lives during this time, hers and mine. I took her to multiple doctor appts, advocated for her rights, paid her bills, cooked her meals, monitored her prescriptions, arranged for any home health care, and all of the other duties that come along with this type of commitment. Also, like many caregivers, I never heard a word of thanks or comment of appreciation during this time, but rather a daily barrage of complaints about the level of my care (which she constantly told me was nonexistent) and threats of the repercussions that were to come should I not do what she wanted at the exact time and way that she wanted it done.
While in the ER, the mother complained about this treatment to the staff. The Emergency staff in the hospital reported this caregiver to authorities, who have approached this articulate, professional, adult child for neglect. The daughter goes on to say,
"My mother had a long history of anxiety and catastrophizing that would cause her to behave irrationally if her needs weren't met."
This is, unfortunately, a common story for those suffering from dementia. With the deterioration of the brain cells inhibitions, emotions conflict.

I was always worried that this issue might arise for me, since my mother refused to allow us to get people into the house to clean up. She was incontinent, as was the dog, the cat and my father. She could not stand up to make meals. She was eating small amounts each day.

If anyone came in, they would have been surprised at the condition of the house. With all the press about Elder Neglect, I worry that we are overlooking the needs of the caregiver. It is not the patient who should qualify for funds, but the family. They must be treated as a unit, and caregiver needs taken into account.

I have heard too many stories of those who suffer from dementia to believe that this is an isolated case. I remember my late father telling my 20-something daughter, "Your mother is keeping me here, you know!" He was referring to Long-Term Care (LTC) and he was incontinent, immobile, and unable to manage his Rx (8, as I recall/day). While we need to protect our elders, we need to be realistic about their emotional and psychological situations. No more sugar coating dementia-related symptoms.

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