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Preventing elder abuse by early intervention in hospice care

Elder abuse can often be overlooked due to how the senior population tends to be more isolated.
Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 7:30 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday was National Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Officials from Ancora Home Health and Hospice, said that elder abuse can often be overlooked due to how the senior population tends to be more isolated. According to a 2017 study done by the University of Alaska, over one in nine Alaskan women ages 60 and older faced abuse.

For organizations like Ancora who primarily works with patients who are 65 and older, paying attention to signs of elderly abuse is key.

“We go and visit people that are at home and provide the home health services so they are not being forgotten about,” said Maria Guyon, the volunteer coordinator for Ancora Home Health and Hospice.

Hospice workers, Guyon said, are mandatory reporters. Whenever they provide home care visits, they look for any potential signs of abuse.

“We’re constantly going out and doing visits and doing visits with them to make sure that everything is okay and that they are happy and healthy,” Guyon said. “For example anything from food to shelter, those things are things that we look for to make sure that they have everything that they need.”

Workers also help in preventing abuse from occurring by being there to support caregivers. Neglect, Ancora said, can also occur from primary caregivers experiencing burnout.

“There’s caregivers needs all the time and we are there to provide support” Guyon said. “So we have medical social workers come to the home. As well as the nurses to be that extra bit of support.”

An unintentional form of abuse that can occur when caregivers are overworked. By providing and recognizing when a caregiver needs help, Ancora employees can prevent a problem before it occurs.

“If we do notice that somebody is struggling with that, we have a community resource list of a ton of different resources that we can to help people,” Guyon said.

Those who witnesses elder abuse should contact authorities imminently according to Guyon. They can also report it the the State of Alaska Health and Human services.

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