You have likely heard harrowing stories of elderly people being preyed upon in their own homes by unscrupulous caregivers. We are outraged, and rightfully so, by such despicable behavior, especially by those we have entrusted with the sacred task of “caregiving.”
The vast majority of private duty caregivers are wonderful, honest, big-hearted individuals who have chosen a path of caregiving because they love people and delight in bringing comfort to the most vulnerable among us. These unassuming heroes quietly lift the quality of life for millions of people across the country every day, and would never dream of deliberately taking advantage of a patient or client in their care.
6 Steps to Take to Protect Your Loved Ones from Elder Abuse
Yet, when the time comes to entrust your loved one into the care of someone else, you need to know that you have put every possible safeguard in place to ensure the sanctity of your loved one’s life and possessions.
The following suggestions can help you develop a strategy that will ease your mind.
1. Choose Wisely
When selecting a home healthcare Registry or Agency, ask questions and demand answers.
How long have they been in business?
Are they licensed in your state?
Do they run criminal background checks and collect professional references on all their caregivers?
How do they handle client concerns? Is someone available 24/7 to answer your questions and respond to your needs?
What are trusted eldercare advisors saying about the company?
While no company can guarantee the 100% perfection of every caregiver they represent, great companies develop a track record of carefully screening each caregiver and being aggressively responsive to each client’s needs or concerns. Do not settle for anything less.
2. Stay Involved
The ongoing presence and participation of friends and family members, including frequent unannounced visits, is the greatest safeguard you can set in place. The best caregivers are inspired to be even better when they know you are paying attention and staying involved.
3. Set Boundaries
With rare exceptions, a caregiver should not handle the financial affairs of the client, nor is it wise for the client to loan money or other material resources to a caregiver. If a caregiver ever makes such overtures, report it to the company immediately.
4. Establish Accountability
At times, the caregiver may need to handle small amounts of the client’s money to do shopping or run errands. If this occurs, insist on careful accounting and receipts. Good caregivers appreciate this accountability because they understand that it protects them, as well.
5. Build an Alliance
The relationship you build with the caregiver influences the quality of care. As a rule, caregivers are inspired to do a better job when they feel that you are working together with them as allies for the good of your loved one. Reversely, caregivers are seldom inspired to better care if they feel that you are distrustful or adversarial toward them.
6. Report Concerns
If you observe or suspect anything that concerns you regarding the way in which the caregiver is relating to your loved one, report it to the company immediately. If you are not fully satisfied with their responsiveness, seek out another company that will take your concerns seriously.
Protecting the more vulnerable among us from elder abuse is a sacred responsibility. Family members, friends, trusted advisors, the Registry or Agency involved, and the caregivers themselves must all remain vigilant, working together to provide appropriate safeguards.
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