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Avoid Abuse By Your Loved One

There are no simple answers to the dilemma of those who abuse their caregivers. Caregivers' voices need to be heard when a caregiver feels abused by a loved one. Obviously, abusive behavior should not go unnoticed.

If you are a primary caregiver to an someone whom you perceive to be abusive in any way, here are a few thoughts.

  • Share your frustration and concern with someone you trust, whether in a caregiver support group, your doctor or your loved one's physician, or a representative from your state's aging agency.

  • If your patient has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, contact the Alzheimer's Foundation 24/7 hotline. A counselor should be available to assist you and offer helpful advice. Call (800) 272-3900.

  • If Alzheimer's is not the culprit, there still may be an underlying medical or psychological disease process, including stroke or personality disorders, so be sure to let your patient's doctor know what is happening.

  • If abuse ever rises to the level of an emergency, consider whether to call EMS for assistance, be it for yourself, and/or your loved one's safety.

  • Your loved one may be better off in an appropriate long-term care facility where staff is trained to handle similar resident profiles. Is assisted living an appropriate housing alternative for your loved one? If the answer is yes, contact a geriatric social worker or your state's aging agency to help you get started.

  • Retaliation and patient abuse is never an option, of course. If nothing else, hire respite care that will allow you to get out and away more often.

  • You do not have to love someone to assist or care for the person. If not love, think compassion and tolerance.

  • Don't be afraid to invite other family members or visitors over. Random visits may be more helpful to you if you are an abused caregiver. A well-timed visit may expose strained relationships and yield possible evidence of bodily assault to the caregiver.

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