Preventing Elder Abuse by Family Caregivers

Presentation By:
Karen Andrews-Savoury BSW;RSW
Having the choice to participate in the decisions that affect
one’s life and the life of one’s society and community.
To be an effective and creative participant in one’s environment.
To understand power not as power-over but as powerto(transformative power)
Helping activities in naturally occurring settings in the
The entire community is viewed as an oasis of potential
People offering help are required to focus on maintaining
their own balance (centeredness) so they are in
relationship with the people receiving help. “before you
can reach out to help the people around you, you must
first understand how to help yourself”
 The Water
Please have a glass / bottle of water available during this exercise)
Mary and Jim had a big empty house after their three children left home.
They were in their mid- fifties and thought about moving to a smaller place.
However when Jim’s mom died, they decided to invite Jim’s Dad, Morris to
live with them. Morris is 80, very alert and active but he was lonely living
alone, was not eating well, and had problems administering his own insulin.
A month ago, Jackie their youngest daughter, announced that she was
divorcing her husband of seven years and asked if she could move home
with her 2 year old son.
Suddenly everything seemed to change. Morris started asking Mary for
rides and cook and was critical of her.
Jackie, her daughter seemed to think that her mom and dad would just drop
everything to babysit for their grandson. She seldom offered to cook and did
not pick up after herself or her son Sean.
Morris became very upset that Sean kept taking his slippers. His diabetes
suddenly became very problematic.
Mary dropped out of her daytime activities so that she could help Morris and
look after Sean. Morris seemed to be deteriorating and whenever she was
stern with Sean, he would cry and run to Jackie. Then she would storm
around complaining about her troubled life. Jim started staying later and
later at work
In 2007, there were 4 million family caregivers across
Over 2.7 million family caregivers were over age 45
26% of Canadians report having cared for a family
member or close friend with a serious health problem in
the last 12 months – that’s about 1 out of every 4 people!
We are all going to be a caregiver at some point in our
Role Expectations
Cultural Differences
Societal Expectations
Family Dynamics
Economic Hardship
Cycle of Violence
Health Issues
Stress is the body’s response to anything that makes
us feel threatened or pressured
Positive stress: gears us up to accomplish a task,
protects and motivates us
Negative stress: leads us to feel tense and upright,
can cause many physical, emotional and social
Denial about the disease and its effects on the person affected
Anger at the person with the disease and others
Withdrawing socially – no longer wanting to stay in touch with friends
or participate in activities
“Nothing is going to change. I can do this... I don’t need any help.”
“ The tension builds up and I get angry. I have stormed out the door...I went right out and
stayed out till I cooled down.”
“I have lost my name is now ‘how’s your mother’
“Some friends are interested, others are not interested in your changed situation.”
Anxiety about facing another day and what the future holds
“I am faced with growing old alone.”
Depression - feeling sad and hopeless much of the time
“we don’t have the closeness that we use to...I have to ask for hugs now.”
“letting go of my dreams... A house, as I expected it to be with spouse.”
Exhaustion – barely having the energy to complete daily tasks
“I need to maintain my sanity- need to be healthy to care for [CR], but no time for me, so how
do you look after yourself?
Sleeplessness – waking up in the middle of the night or having
nightmares or stressful dreams
“At the end of the day I am very takes hours to settle down to sleep”
“[CR] is up at night... Is afraid of making a mess...makes me worn out...blow up easily...raises
my blood pressure.”
Emotional Reactions – crying at minor upsets, often irritable
“I feel angry-blow up and then I feel guilty – it has destroyed my self-esteem”
“The unpredictability of [CR’s] reactions is still what throws me... I expect a pattern”
“I am always walking on glass to keep the peace”
Lack of Concentration – having trouble focusing on and
completing complex tasks
“ I’m always second guessing myself and feel less and less
confident that I am doing the right thing.”
Health Problems – losing or gaining weight, getting sick
more often, developing chronic health problems (high
blood pressure)
“I am one step away from needing care myself.”
“ Physically it is hard, especially on my back... Have to pull
him up from the floor after he has fallen. Refuses to let
me call the ambulance or other invasion of our
privacy...have to avoid extra costs.”
Stage One: Frustration
Stage Two: Isolation & Lack of Insight
Stage Three: Depression
Identifying Feelings
Sharing The Care
Power As A Resource
Strategies That Promote Effective Engagement
Community Development, Collective Empowerment and
If the health care system
were a plant, family
caregivers would be the
roots: invisible, fragile,
and vial.
Silver Donald Cameron

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