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Editorial: Elder abuse

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Anyone who has placed a father, mother, grandparent or other relative in a nursing home knows how hard it is to make the decision. We all want our independence, but health problems require the move for many older people.

While this area is fortunate to have several facilities that offer excellent care, a case emerged recently where, according to police, a local nursing home employee admitted to hitting a resident on the right side of her face. In this case, the local nursing home took immediate and decisive action, and the person no longer works there. But the broader issue of elder abuse remains.

The Southeast Missourian recently reported that according to estimates, 1 million to 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been mistreated in some capacity by a caregiver. With these figures and a local connection in mind, we ask: How do we prevent this kind of abuse?

For nursing homes, it's important to make good hires. There are many who choose caregiving as a profession. It's a noble calling, and we thank those who show this compassion. Nevertheless, it's important that nursing homes have a thorough hiring process and provide ongoing oversight.

The elderly receiving care also have a responsibility. While some may not be in a position to speak up for themselves, others can. These individuals should feel free to express their concerns to a trusted caregiver, a family member or friend. By speaking up, you may be able to prevent someone else from being injured or otherwise mistreated.

Family members also have a responsibility. By making regular visits, talking with your loved one and asking questions, you can play a vital role in preventing abuse.

There are few things more gut-wrenching than finding out someone has been abused. But with proper vigilance, your efforts may prevent the mistreatment of someone else.

To learn more about elder abuse, go to www.health.mo.gov/safety/abuse. To report abuse, call Missouri's Elder Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 800-392-0210.


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