Monday, November 2, 2015

What Is Abuse And What To Do About It

Abuse. Does it occur? When does it occur? Who can it happen too? What to do if it is seen, who do you report it too?

Abuse is one of those things sadly that happens with dementia patients. It occurs in other illnesses as well.

Abuse can happen anywhere, at any time. It doesn't only happen in a facility by an employee there, it can happen right in your own home.

It doesn't have to be a stranger, or a person employed at the hospital, or nursing home. Abuse does occur by family members

And abuse can be done by the patient, as well as to the patient. Either way, no abuse of any kind should be tolerated.

Verbal abuse can lead to and be just as devastating as physical abuse. When a patient is not being properly cared for, and the person who is in charge of their care does this on purpose, it is indeed abuse.

Force feeding can be a form of abuse. If not done in the proper way. Bathing also can be abusive again if not done properly.

If you are making your loved one take a bath or shower, and all the time yelling at them, forcing them to get in the tub, grabbing them and threatening them in anyway, this is abuse.

Many times what we think is abuse, is actually assault. When you hit someone, shove someone, do any kind of physical harm to anyone this can be constituted as assault.

And if this occurs to a family member, it becomes domestic violence. Here in Ohio, the second time you are charged with domestic violence, it is a felony.

Doesn't have to be the same person who you assaulted, if you are charged twice with domestic violence and found guilty it is indeed a felony.

The State of Ohio takes domestic violence very seriously. And when what you think is abuse involves a family member, it can very well be domestic violence instead of an abuse charge.

What to do if you even think abuse has happened? Report it. Document it. If it was in a facility, make sure it is documented, pictures taken by you and the facility.

Make sure the authorities are contacted. Don't let an abuse case be handled within. A police report and an investigation needs to be done.

Take your loved one out of situation immediately. If it is in a facility, move them. If it is in a home, move them.

Remember, this works both ways. The patient can indeed be the one doing the abusing. This too cannot be tolerated. Sometimes sadly the only way to stop this is to have them medically sedated.

If a person was someone mean, or abusive in some way before dementia, there is a high probability that they will be more so after dementia. This doesn't hold true in every case of course, but it can increase. And this is attributed to the disease; not the person. Some people will do things like abuse that would never dream of doing it any other time.

The bottom line is there is no place for abuse of any kind in our society. It is against the law to actually put your hands on another person. That is called assault.

When a person is being mistreated, grabbed hard to cause bruising, if they are being slapped, or hit in anyway, even talked to in a demeaning manner or threatening way, this can all be looked at as assault other than abuse.

Being in law enforcement and EMS for 25 years I seen my share of abuse and assaults. It is sometimes unthinkable what we do to one another.

I once charged a Pastor at a local church here for assault on a 12 year old boy who was handicapped. What he thought he was doing was setting rules, and making sure the boy followed them.

In fact what he was doing was abusing the child, and I had evidence that he had assaulted the boy as well. Long story short, he is no Pastor now, he did some time, and his life was ruined.

But what he did to that child may never be undone. Anyone can fall into this mess, being the abuser or the victim of abuse. It's is much like dementia, abuse knows no boundaries, does not see race, or doesn't matter your financial status or your status in the community.

It is rare that it happens in facilities. Most facilities keep a very good eye on this kind of thing. But it does and can occur. It is up to you, the primary caregiver to see it doesn't in any situation.

And it is up to every family member to see that abuse is not happening in their family and if so reporting it.

If you think this is even occurring, or could occur, then you are most likely right. Caregivers and family members need to be diligent. You are never taken out of the caregiver role, even if they are in a facility.

Check you loved one for bruising around and under their arms. In the small of the back, under their blouse, or PJ's, just lift their shirt up and have a look.

If you go to give your loved one a kiss or hug and they suddenly pull back from you, and they don't usually do this...this could be a red flag.

I tell people all the time put a hidden camera in the room of your loved one who is in a facility. And don't tell anyone. If you tell anyone there is a hidden camera that defeats the very purpose.

Some will tell you it is illegal to do so in facilities. I say they are wrong. You have the right to do what you need to do protect your loved one.You are paying for that room, which is no different than if you were renting a house and had a camera installed to watch a baby sitter, or whoever.  Granted the camera can not invade another patients space or privacy.

But, you can indeed use these hidden cameras. They are very easy to set up and very inexpensive. Just don't tell anyone. That is the key. Once you tell someone, anyone, it no longer becomes hidden or useful.

Many dementia facilities have private rooms anyways. But if they do share a room with another patient, just set the camera up where it will only see your loved one. Not the shared bathroom, or whatever.

Again, abuse is not an epidemic. But we need to be aware it does indeed happen.

© Rick Phelps  2015