If you care for someone with dementia, you are their Advocate! This is the title of a brochure created by the USC Keck School of Medicine with funding from the Archstone Foundation. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with dementia. This also means that more and more family members are becoming caregivers for individuals with dementia. Caregivers are responsible for making sure that the individual with dementia remains safe and does not become a victim of elder abuse, among other responsibilities. Elder Abuse can be physical, verbal/psychological, financial, neglect/isolation, or sexual. The creators of the advocacy brochure report that, “(r)esearch indicates that older adults with dementia are particularly vulnerable to abuse.” Furthermore, the majority of elder abuse reported to Adult Protective Services actually occurs in the home by family members.
The Keck School of Medicine brochure acknowledges that caregiving is hard work. They list a number of challenges that caregivers face including, “feeling pressure to be ‘on watch’ 24 hours a day” and “lack of personal time, privacy or family support,” among many others. Many caregivers become frustrated, stressed, and feel overwhelmed and isolated. Because of this, taking care of yourself is the number one tip listed in the brochure for ways you can protect and advocate for your loved one. The brochure also lists five other steps: asking for help, learning to respond appropriately to difficult behaviors, identifying “stress triggers,” informing your family about elder abuse, and knowing the signs and speaking up. The brochure also includes contacts for more information. You can view the brochure here.