Preventing Elder Abuse
An adult medical day center can by its very function help prevent elder abuse.
- Respite for Caregivers
Caring for an older relative can be stressful. Even a loving family member, under the stress of constant caregiving, can become exhausted and resentful. Sometimes these pressures cause family caregivers to lash out, physically or verbally, or to neglect important aspects of the person's care. The respite time provided by an adult medical day center can reduce the stress and prevent abuse.
- Support for Caregivers
Adult day centers offer caregivers support, counseling and guidance that can help them work through the maze of services and the difficult problems that come up.
- Socialization for Participants
Persons with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias or those with significant health problems, may experience feelings of isolation. This may lead to depression and even self-neglect, which is one form of abuse. An adult medical day center offers opportunities for participants to socialize with others which may decrease the risk of isolation, depression and/or self-neglect.
- Professional Monitoring
The adult medical day center staff is responsible for monitoring the participant's physical, behavioral and emotional health and responding to changes. If staff recognizes signs or symptoms of abuse, he or she will report it to the nurse and social worker and one of these professionals will report the suspected abuse to the Department of Social Services, which is responsible for Adult Protective Services investigations.
The licensed staff (nurse and social worker) at an adult day center is required to report any cases of suspected abuse of an elderly or disabled adult. This protection in the law ensures that, even if the older or disabled person is reluctant or unable to report the abuse, there can still be identification and investigation of a case.
If you suspect abuse from a staff member or another participant you should immediately report the matter to the nurse, social worker or program director. They are required to investigate and refer the case to the local Department of Social Services.
If you are concerned staff will not handle the case appropriately, you may make an Adult Protective Services (APS) referral directly. In Baltimore County, call 410-853-3000. In other areas in Maryland contact the local Department of Social Services and ask for the APS Unit.
In addition to this section, there is also information available to help one understand the signs and symptoms of abuse.