What would you do if you found out a loved one was being abused, neglected or exploited? Would you even know the signs? Would you know who to call for help?
Annually, June 15th is international World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse is all too real. Last year, Indiana Adult Protective Services (APS) received almost 35,000 calls for service resulting in more than 9,500 cases investigated; two-thirds involved persons over the age of 60.
In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are all considered forms of elder abuse. Self-neglect may also be considered mistreatment.
Have you had the conversation with your loved ones yet? It’s the conversation that often happens too late, or not at all. The conversation for which it’s never the right time. The one that seems too difficult, or too painful, or too awkward.
It’s the conversation about how you want to live and how you want to die. Have you had and documented the conversation about your wishes for care and treatment when you are nearing the end of your life or when you can no longer communicate them yourself?
Healthcare providers that start the conversation with their patients will tell you that far from being too difficult, it’s often a relief for both their patients and families. The patient is relieved that they can have a serious and frank discussion about their wishes. Caregivers may be relieved that a third party is facilitating what can be an emotional conversation.