Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks! | by Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman | Nov, 2021

Subject: Elder abuse during vacations

An article in the recent news caught my attention. you read…The caregiver killed the person who trusted hIm to provide care. Reading this story hurt my heart, it sank in my stomach, and it hurt my soul. It rides real and raw reality in alignment with the pressures of the role one might feel. It also reminds me of the importance of having a village providing care to rely on in times of trouble. I’ve been there, just to be completely transparent. I spent some days and nights looking forward to taking long walks from a short pier. Thank God for my village!

The holiday season brings memories and emotions for people of all ages, but the elderly and their caregivers are often overlooked. We need all hands on deck, all antennas, even signs of elder abuse, and intervene when possible. During the holidays, these feelings of isolation and exhaustion create feelings “I can’t do that anymore.”

These feelings come from sleep fatigue, loneliness and loss of independence as it was known before. For me, most of my feelings centered on the limited movements of being close to my mother. While it was necessary to quit my job to be a full-time caregiver, the full-time experience was understandable due to my nursing profession. I knew the expectations of the role. Caregivers are not always qualified to have such knowledge. At least in my career, I’ve had 8-hour breaks outside the home. As reality collides with day and night responsibility for another person’s care and well-being, the physical and emotional toll becomes more and more apparent.

I wonder what prompted this person to end the caregiver’s life? I wonder if there are support systems for relief? I wonder if others noticed signs and wonders that would have determined harm to the care recipient was imminent and could have stepped in to provide help? Wondering if they are familiar with social services and community support? Yes I wonder!

This time of year is challenging for many caregivers. There are small steps we can all take to prevent and treat elder abuse. If you know a caregiver, please take the time to check in with them. Don’t text Pick up the phone and check them out. The human touch is priceless. Send an encouraging card to let them know that you care and are thinking about them. It means a lot. as Proactive attorney for your caregiver, I would love to share some coins:

Caregivers should have breaks. We cannot say this enough.

Taking short breaks can make a difference.

Provide social support to the caregiver and recipient by checking with them and asking others to do the same.

Sometimes the appearance of neglect is the first time you are about to die. It’s okay to wonder about skin spots and bruises, weight loss, poor dental hygiene, and wearing the same clothes for days.

Attention to detail can save lives, caregivers, and care recipients. Be safe! Be good!

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