It is difficult to take care of an elderly person with many different needs and infirmities. Both the demands of caregiving and the needs of an elderly person can create situations where elder abuse is more likely to occur. For a caregiver, the responsibilities and demands can be extremely stressful. This stress can cause a caregiver to burn out, become impatient, or lash out at the elderly person. Some risk factors for caregivers include:
- inability to cope with stress
- lack of support from other caregivers
- substance abuse
- inability to see psychological rewards
These risk factors can lead to high stress levels and cause the caregiver to abuse his/her patients. Nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they lack training, are unsuited to caregiving, have too many demands, or work under poor conditions.
While elder abuse is never excusable, there are some factors that can make an elder at greater risk for elder abuse. Some of these factors include:
- grave illness
- serious dementia
- social isolation
- history of domestic violence
- history of elder acting as an abusive relative
- a senior’s tendency toward aggression
Because of these risk factors (for caregivers and for elders), elder abuse may happen, though unintentionally. The caregiver may be pushed beyond his/her capabilities, causing him/her to strike out or ignore the needs of his/her patient. Knowing the risk factors can help prevent elder abuse. However, there are also warning signs to look out for in case elder abuse happens. Learn the warning signs in our next post.