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  • When Plan to Protect® was first written, in 1996, our focus was on the protection of children.  In 2000, we recognized that not only did children require protection when placed in the position of care of others, but youth also needed that same standard of protection. Over the course of the last five years we have increasingly seen the need to provide that same standard of protection to vulnerable adults and the elderly.  As North American's age, we are reading of a great number of individuals that are being exploited during the last years of their life.  

    It's sad that at the beginning and end of one's life, individuals are more vulnerable to abuse?  Our desire in expanding our services to a wider audience, is that we can provide the same level of protection to vulnerable adults as we provide to children and youth.  

    For myself, I am taken back to a time in my own life that my grandmother was complaining of institutional abuse.  Institutional elder abuse generally refers to mistreatment that occurs in residential facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living and board and care homes. Institutional abuse is usually done by those who have a legal obligation to provide elder victims with care and protection. I only wish I knew then what I know now.  The types of abuse range from physical, sexual and emotional to caregiver neglect, abandonment and financial exploitation.

    Examine these warning signs and symptoms of each type of abuse if you are concerned about an elderly family member, congregational member or friend.

    1. Your loved one is more confused, disoriented, drowsy or sleeping all the time due to medication overdose or unmonitored adverse side effects making necessary adjustments.

    2. Your loved one has become incontinent due to unavailable help with toileting or untimely and if already wearing disposable briefs for incontinence has skin breakdown in diaper area from sitting in urine and feces.

    3. Your loved one has become immobile or has more difficulty getting around due to lack of assistance with daily walking and regular exercise programs.

    4. Your loved one has poor personal hygiene including smelling of urine and feces, wearing dirty clothes, body odor, unwashed hair, overgrown nails due to lack of basic personal care, bathing and toileting.

    5. Your loved one has unexplained broken bones, dislocations, bruises, scratches that may be result of rough handling during transfers, repositioning, force feeding and medicine administration.

    6. Your loved one is dehydrated or malnourished with sudden weight loss, dry mouth, cracked lips, swollen tongue, reduced urine output, and weak due to withholding of adequate food and fluids or lack of help with feeding.

    7. Your loved one has developed bedsores, open wounds, frequent urinary tract infections due to improper care when confined to bed or withholding needed medical attention for diabetic and other chronically ill.

    8. Your loved one's safety is compromised when unexplained falls or accidents occur caused by poor supervision and incompetent assistance to prevent avoidable mishaps.

    9. Your loved one is isolated and withdrawn showing a lack of interest in favorite activities due forbidding participation, little or no mental stimulation and silence refusing to talk about certain subjects caused by fear of retaliation.

    10. Your loved one has become agitated, anxious, fearful, guilty, embarrassed due to emotional abuse including ignoring cries for help and call lights, ridiculing, bullying, humiliating or even threats of punishment. 

    Any one of these factors could be attributed to old age, however, providing care and protection from harm means we are entrusting our loved ones into the care of those that provide the same level of compassion and oversight that we would expect if the individual was an infant or toddler.  Supervision of the elderly is not too dissimilar to the supervision needed for children.  We are now able to provide policies and training for those caring for the elderly.  

    When you suspect that abuse has occurred it is important that you report this.  Many States and Provinces have helplines for the elderly. 

    In Ontario the Senior Safety Line provides information, referrals, and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in over 150 languages. The hotline is a toll-free, confidential resource for seniors suffering abuse, including financial, physical, sexual and mental abuse and neglect. Toll-free: 1-866-299-1011

    Locate your State's Ombudsman 

    Source: http://www.carepathways.com/elderabuse.cfm, Carepathways, retrieved January 8, 2015. 

    http://www.seniors.gov.on.ca/en/elderabuse/ Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat, Retrieved January 8, 2015 

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