Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Elder Abuse Prevention Durham: What Can Seniors Do to Protect Themselves Against Elder Abuse?

By:  Todd Palmer

Elder Abuse Prevention Durham - Elder abuse is something that may occur in a variety of ways, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial. Additionally, healthcare professionals can take advantage of medical needs by committing fraud regarding their Medicaid and other billings associated with a senior's care. As such, there are many ways in which people can mistreat elderly individuals; however, it is possible for seniors to protect themselves against such abuse.

Here are a few tips for seniors to assist them in preventing abuse from taking place, provided by the home care professionals of Durham, North Carolina:[1]

  1. Seniors who have experienced mistreatment of any shape or form should report the incident. Whether they were neglected in a nursing home or a family caregiver took financial advantage of them, it is crucial that seniors speak up. In such circumstances, elderly individuals should turn to a trusted family member or friend, an elder abuse helpline, or the police.
  2. By maintaining control over their financial and legal affairs, seniors can better safeguard their bank accounts, wills, and other assets against financial abuse. If a senior is unable to handle these concerns on their own, trusting them to a money management or legal professional is a great idea. If this is not possible, a trusted family member can also protect their loved ones' financial wellbeing.
  3. Isolated elderly individuals are often targeted because abusers believe that their misconduct will be less likely to be noticed. As such, it is important for seniors to stay in touch with loved ones, including friends and family members. By having people around, seniors can create a boundary between themselves and individuals who would take advantage of them.
In addition to these tips, elderly individuals can also work to create positive relationships with care providers. Negative relationships perpetuated by both seniors and caregivers may foster resentment and frustration that can lead to abuse.

Of course, it is not possible to prevent elder abuse from taking place in all cases. Should your senior fall victim to mistreatment, it is crucial that they do not think it is their own fault for not preventing it. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused, it is imperative that you take action right away.

[1] http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Elder Abuse Prevention Chapel Hill: What Can a Caregiver Do to Prevent Abuse?

By:  Todd Palmer

Elder Abuse Prevention Chapel Hill - Caregivers take on a great deal of responsibility when they provide services for elderly individuals. The home care providers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, are well aware that their daily activities have a major impact on the lives of seniors.

As such, these professionals understand the importance of preventing elder abuse before it becomes an issue. While it is safe to say that the majority of senior care providers are committed to the wellbeing of elderly individuals, it is also true that, in such a high stress job, there are certainly instances in which abuse takes place.

Here are some of the ways in which caregivers can prevent abuse and safeguard the emotional health of their seniors:[1]

  1. Take days off: Senior care is a very stressful industry, and it is important that caregivers take advantage of respite care services that can give them time to breathe and maintain a balance between work and their personal life.
  2. Stay focused on mental and physical health: Caregivers spend all of their time ensuring that their elderly patients are healthy and have everything they need, meaning that their own physical and mental wellbeing may be an afterthought. Getting plenty of exercise and ensuring proper mental health are extremely important in preventing abuse.
  3. See to it that depression is treated as soon as possible: Depression has been identified as one of the risk factors associated with elder abuse. As such, it is integral that caregivers are treated for depression before it leads them to act in ways they will later regret.
  4. Seek out support groups: Providing elder care can be as challenging as it is rewarding. For this reason, many support groups have popped up around the country to provide the resources that caregivers need.
  5. Address drug and alcohol problems immediately: Drug and alcohol abuse is another key risk factor associated with elder abuse. Treating these issues and relying on respite care services until they are resolved are critical.
Elder abuse is, unfortunately, something that countless seniors experience. These elderly individuals deserve to be treated with respect and compassion, which is just one of many reasons why caregivers should prevent abuse as thoroughly as possible.

[1] Prevention tips from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Healthcare Fraud and Abuse: What Should You Look For?

The elderly population is a target for many forms of abuse, including emotional, physical, and financial. In addition to this, James of Durham, North Carolina, has discovered just how important it is to protect your senior against healthcare fraud. Medicare fraud, in particular, is something that takes place every day and few seniors may notice it.

James highly recommends learning the different types of Medicare fraud that can occur to best protect your elderly loved one. His mother was abused in this manner and, since discovering the situation, he was worked to help bring awareness to this form of mistreatment. Here are, according to Forbes, six different kinds of Medicare related fraud to which your senior may fall victim:[1]

  1. Identity Theft: Dishonest medical professionals have access to sensitive records. As such, they may steal information and over-bill the Medicare program, thereby making a profit for themselves.
  2. Fraudulent Equipment Billing: Medicare may receive a bill for new, more expensive equipment, but your senior may be given older resources.
  3. Phantom Billing: Doctor's offices engage in this form of fraud when they bill the Medicare program for services that were never rendered.
  4. Upcoding: Each service has a code that is reported, and this code is what Medicare uses to determine the payment the doctor receives. By submitting codes for services that are more expensive than those provided, offices can collect more money.
  5. Recommendation of Unnecessary Procedures: Even if a test is not needed, a doctor may conduct a procedure for the sole purpose of collecting the Medicare reimbursement on it.
  6. Prescription Fraud: Dishonest doctors may provide patients with generic drugs while charging Medicare for more expensive name brand pharmaceuticals.
James knows that Medicare fraud is a more prevalent issue than you might first assume. As such, he encourages you to be on the lookout for signs of fraudulent activity and report anything that you detect to the proper authorities. By reviewing your senior's claims, comparing doctor's records with Medicare documentation, and going over your senior's Medicare Summary Notice, you can ensure that your elderly loved one is receiving the services for which their doctor's office is charging.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardkrooks/2012/10/04/seniors-need-to-be-wary-of-medicare-fraud/

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Understanding Financial Abuse of Seniors

Financial abuse is a kind of mistreatment that, unfortunately, some seniors suffer. They may experience this at the hand of a family member or a caregiver, but it is almost always someone whom they trust. Melissa, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, knows firsthand the importance of protecting your senior against the advances of individuals who would take advantage of them. Her mother, Sandra, was financially abused by Melissa's uncle. After going through such a devastating situation, Melissa is now dedicated to assisting others in recognizing and addressing the signs of financial mistreatment.

Here are, according to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, some of the ways in which seniors can fall victim to this form of exploitation:[1]

  • Money or property is stolen from elderly individuals without their knowledge
  • The abuser forges the signature of a senior to make purchases, take out loans, or conduct other financial activities
  • Elderly individuals are deceived or coerced into signing power of attorney over to a specific individual
  • Seniors are influenced by abusers with ill intentions to alter their will or sign a deed
  • The abuser utilizes the property of an elderly individual without first receiving their permission to do so
  • The abuser promises to care for a senior in exchange for money, property, or other valuables but does not uphold their end of the deal
  • Individuals lie to gain the trust of seniors and then scam them into giving them money, property, or other valuable items
  • Telemarketing scams scare seniors into giving out sensitive financial information or making a payment to a certain cause or individual
  • Fraudulent activities convince seniors to hand over financial information or monetary or other assets
The elderly individuals who are most at risk of becoming victims of financial abuse are those who predators may believe are isolated. Additionally, seniors who suffer from physical and mental disabilities, as well as those who are not well-versed in financial matters, are primary targets for abuse. By keeping a close eye on your senior, you can protect your loved one in the same way that Melissa protected her mother.

[1] http://www.preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/fin_abuse.html

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Risk Factors for Elder Abuse

Lily, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was worried that her mother might be suffering from elder abuse. One of the caregivers working at the nursing facility in which Deborah, her mother, resided was friendly at first, but became increasingly distant and impatient as time went on. To determine whether or not she should be worried about her mother's safety, Lily embarked on a search to pinpoint the risk factors that could lead to elder abuse. Here are the factors that she found:[1]

Risk Factors of Elder Abuse: Caregivers
  • The inability to deal with stress or bounce back from stressful situations
  • Depression, which is commonly experienced by caregivers
  • The absence of a support system based on relationships with other caregivers
  • The attitude that providing senior care is a burden and that the job does not provide any psychological rewards
  • Abuse of alcohol and other substances
Risk Factors for Elder Abuse: Seniors
  • Severe dementia or other illness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • History as an abusive family member, including parent or spouse, as well as history of violence at home
  • Habit of using verbal or physical aggression
These risk factors can lead to the development of an abusive situation; however, it is important to note that they do not necessarily cause abuse in every circumstance. Just because one or more of these risk factors is present does not mean that your senior is being abused. You may find it prudent, though, to keep a watchful eye on your senior to ensure that they are not in harm's way.

Lily was happy to find that her mother was not being abused, although she was certainly glad to have gained the knowledge necessary to pinpoint an abusive situation. Now that she is aware of the risk factors associated with elder abuse, she knows that she can better help her mother if any issues come to light in the future. If your senior is living in an assisted living facility or nursing home, keep these risk factors in mind in order to pinpoint any problems that may arise as quickly as possible. 

[1] Information from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/elder_abuse_physical_emotional_sexual_neglect.htm#risk

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Treatment Options for Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body Dementia, or LBD, is a multi-system condition that is very similar to Alzheimer's disease and even Parkinson's disease.[1] As such, it can prove difficult for seniors to get a solid diagnosis of this illness; however, once a diagnosis is made, the senior care professionals of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, know that it is crucial to begin treatment right away.

What Treatment Options Are Available?
Because LBD is a condition that impacts different systems throughout the body, it is integral that your senior's treatment plan is comprehensive in terms of the facets of the disease that it addresses. Most commonly, a team of specialists will be created to provide targeted attention to each of the symptoms that your senior is experiencing.

The symptoms that are associated with LBD range widely, so it is important to note that your elderly loved one may have a very diverse team on their side. Some of the symptoms or groups of symptoms that these professionals may address include:

  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Movement symptoms
  • Visual hallucinations
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
  • Neuroleptic sensitivity

Each of these categories of symptoms is treated in its own way. Cognitive issues are often addressed through the use of cholinesterase inhibitors, which are also used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Levodopa, a common medication for Parkinson's disease, is also used to minimize the disruption of movement. Visual hallucinations are frequently treated with antipsychotic pharmaceuticals; however, these drugs may cause seniors to experience neuroleptic sensitivity, which is another symptom of LBD. Finally, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder is addressed with melatonin, clonazepam, or other options.
Non-Medical Treatment Plans

In addition to a traditional medical approach, seniors may benefit from non-medical therapies, including physical, speech, and occupational therapies. Support groups and programs that include family members are also found to be incredibly valuable by many individuals and their loved ones who are, together, fighting LBD.
The treatment of LBD changes from one senior to the next, as the plan that doctors create is based on an individual's set of symptoms. By seeking medical attention as soon as possible, you can help your elderly loved one access the treatment options that will best address their symptoms.

[1] All information from http://www.lbda.org/content/treatment-options

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms: Understanding the Warning Signs

A surprisingly common but highly unrecognized condition, Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is in many ways similar to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.  The senior care professionals in Durham, North Carolina, know that it can be very difficult for doctors to make a diagnosis of this condition; however, it is crucial that your elderly loved one is correctly diagnosed in order for them to receive the appropriate healthcare. For this reason, it is integral that you understand the symptoms of LBD and, if they arise, ensure that your senior secures the medical attention they need to fight this disease.

Because LBD is actually an umbrella term for two different diagnoses (Parkinson's disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies) it can be very difficult to pinpoint the symptoms that are associated with the condition.[1] Healthcare professionals have divided the list of potential symptoms into three different types: central, core, and suggestive features. Additionally, a list of supportive features may indicate the presence of this condition.

  • Central feature: Progressive dementia, or dementia that intensifies over time, is the primary symptom of LBD; however, the disruption of memory is not always detectable in the early stages of the disease.
  • Core features: Seniors often experience oscillating cognitive abilities that vary particularly regarding alertness and attention. Additionally, they may have visual hallucinations or the issues associated with parkinsonism.
  • Suggestive features: This category of symptoms includes REM sleep behavior disorder, sensitivity to neuroleptics, and the low uptake of dopamine transporters in the basal ganglia of the brain.  
  • Supportive features: In addition to having some of the symptoms above, seniors may experience fainting, falling, unexplained loss of consciousness, dysfunction of the autonomic system, hallucinations (other than those that are visual), visuospatial issues, and psychiatric concerns.
LBD is a condition that impacts millions of individuals around the world; however, because it is not widely understood, it can prove difficult to get a solid diagnosis of this particular condition. By understanding the symptoms of LBD and seeking medical treatment as soon as you recognize the warning signs, you can better protect your elderly loved one's health.

[1] All information regarding symptoms from http://www.lbda.org/category/3437/what-is-lbd.htm