Elder abuse is a term that refers to the intentional and systematic abuse of a senior citizen. Sadly, this mistreatment is usually meted out for a family member of the elderly person.
Most commonly, it is the same individual who is primarily charged with providing care for that person. Although always present in society, it is not until the increase in media coverage that this problem took prominent billing on the evening news, and some of the more shocking cases became nightly news fodder.
Hand in hand with the problem of elder abuse another problem surfaced: the need for skilled caregivers who at least temporarily can take over seamlessly for the primary caregiver.
As a matter of fact, many instances of elder abuse were directly related to an overwhelming sense of frustration, helplessness, and anxiety by the elderly persons family member charged with their care and day to day needs.
Taking a Closer Look
As physicians, volunteer organizations, and also legislators began taking a closer look at the issuance of care, it quickly emerged that while much attention was paid to taking care of the senior citizen, very little help was offered to the drafted caregiver.
Respite care seeks to counteract this trend and in so doing, respite care prevents elder abuse. A skilled temporary caregiver takes over for the primary caregiver to essentially offer this individual a day off from the responsibility of caring for another person.
As this task is usually a 24-7 undertaking, even just a few hours free from the crushing weight of this responsibility has been found to have a profound effect on the mental well being and therefore overall outlook on life for those who are charged with caring for an elderly family member.
Time Out to Recharge Needed
A task as simple as going to the grocery store to shop for needed staples or just the ability to take the dog down to the beach for a few hours are now known to provide the recharging of the primary caregivers own mental reserves which will then enable her or him to continue on with the care.
In other cases it is the more frequent utilization of a respite care giver that allows a primary care individual to reestablish a social network. This may be done by permitting the individual to reconnect with a spouse or with a network of friends or members at the local religious faith community.
In addition to preventing elder abuse, respite care is also found to be instrumental in preserving the overall health of the primary caregiver. It is physically impossible to be on the job day in day out and not show some wear in the form of sleeplessness, irritability, poor eating habits, stress, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, and of course anger management problems.
When combined with the kind of respite care that is available during an emergency for the primary caregiver, the latter now is able to take care of her or his family needs in addition to those of the elderly individual. Cases of elder abuse at the hands of overwrought caregivers are now appearing to be on the decline.