Personal care of the loved one

Do not make the mistake of trying to protect your loved one’s dignity by being out of the room when he/she is being bathed. Familiarize yourself with the proper procedures for bathing and frequently watch the procedure being done.

Never allow your loved one to be totally uncovered when being bathed. If you see an improper procedure from someone who claims to be licensed and/or experienced, that technique is being used to humiliate the patient. Immediately fire that employee!

Do not expect that your teaching the caregiver the proper procedure will change the behavior, especially if it is being used to humiliate the patient. The behavior will be changed while you are present, but revert to the humiliating technique when you are absent.

The presence of bed sores on a patient can be an important indication of lack of care. Find out about the causes and the prevention of bed sores. Excuses by the caregiver are never acceptable. You must be very pro-active on this issue, firing the care giver if the issue is not resolved quickly.

Check the patient’s teeth daily. If the teeth are dirty, it is a sign that the patient is not receiving proper care. Do not accept excuses. Look in the patient’s mouth for signs of thrush, a fungal disease. Proper mouth care is important and necessary or the patient will not be able to swallow comfortably and will stop eating.

When conditions are puzzling, like a patient sleeping more than he/she should, or losing weight, though adequate food is provided, always suspect the caregiver. Never just assume that the patient is failing or that his/her disease is getting worse. The patient’s health may be deteriorating, but the reason for the decline could be the care giver.

Do not assume that the doctor your loved one visits will routinely look for elder abuse. It is not common practice unless the doctor see bruising or broken bones.

The medical profession often considers paid caregivers to be colleagues; colleagues motives and activities are seldom questioned by other medical professionals. The medical profession assumes that when an order of care is given, the order will be followed, particularly by individuals working in the healing professions. When the patient returns to the doctor in worse condition than at a previous visit, the doctor assumes the elderly patient is dying, that his/her body is failing.

You will be told by the doctor that you are in denial when you argue with him/her about the patient’s worsening condition. Be persistent. You know more about the patient than the doctor does – you know the patient’s life history; the doctor sees the patient for only a few minutes per visit.

Looking for bruises, expecting bruises to tell you if the loved one is being abused, is not enough. There are many ways to abuse which leave no marks — withdrawing food and/or medicine, ugly, demeaning words, changing medication schedules, refusal to assist an individual in and out of the car or to the bathroom, improper bathing procedures, improper mouth care, excessive urinary padding — all are means of abusing your loved one.

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