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Feelings Associated with Caregiving

How to Tell If an Elder Needs Help

Warning Signs of a Possible Need for Help

Communication is Key

Plan Ahead

Signs of Elder Abuse


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Elder Abuse

It is estimated that between 1 - 2 million Americans over the age of sixty-five are subjected to physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse each year.



The Caregiver Resource Center was extremely adept at helping to manage a complex family situation during a period of severe crisis.


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In 2000, Family Circle and Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a joint study, designed to examine the experiences of adults in the course of caring for an aging parent. The study findings reflect the perceptions and experiences of adult children, related to their parents 65 years of age or older.


  48% are concerned about their parent\\'s safety
  21% are concerned about their parent\\'s ability to get needed medical care
  17% are concerned that their parent is not taking medications as prescribed
  30% say they are "very" or "somewhat" concerned, about the quality of providers, available to their parents (e.g. doctors and specialists, hospitals, nursing homes, and home health providers)

     Feelings Associated with Caregiving

  96% feel positive loving feelings
  90% feel appreciated
  84% feel proud
  53% feel worried
  37% feel frustrated
  28% feel sad or depressed
  23% feel guilty
  22% feel overwhelmed

The Family Circle/Kaiser Family Foundation Survey on Health Care and Other Elder Care Issues, 2000

How to Tell If an Elder Needs Help

All too often, an elder wants to retain his or her independence, and doesn\\'t want to become a burden on their loved ones. In order to maintain their independence, the elder may attempt to hide the fact that they are struggling, and are in need of assistance.

One way that you may learn of a problem, is when you receive a phone call in the middle of the night. When you answer the phone you hear "Your mother is in the emergency room, she\\'s fallen and broken her hip." As the closest living relative you receive the call, and within minutes you are being faced new responsibilities as your mother\\'s caregiver.

Not all problems occur as a crisis, but instead evolve in a gradual series of warning signs spanning weeks, months, or years. You may notice that the elder is having difficulty cleaning the house, cooking meals, paying bills, or that you are finding yourself speaking louder so that you can be understood.

A recurrent theme expressed, is the fear of broaching the subject of whether or not, an elder is capable of caring for themselves. In addition, once it is clear that the elder is in need of assistance, there is often confusion as to what is the best way to proceed. This is a delicate balancing act, ensuring an elder\\'s health and safety, while maintaining their independence and dignity.

Warning Signs of a Possible Need for Help

The real challenge facing elders and their loved ones, is the ability to differentiate normal aging, from the warning signs that something may be wrong, requiring some form of intervention. It is important to note that we all have a bad day - our hair in uncombed, we forget an appointment, or we feel depressed; however a recurrent pattern may indicate a problem.

We are providing a list of some questions that may help you evaluate if there is a potential problem, but this list is only meant to serve as a guide. If a problem is suspected, the elder needs to be seen by a professional who can conduct a complete medical evaluation and a geriatric assessment, and help determine the best way to proceed.


Is the person experiencing any significant vision, hearing, or memory loss?


Is the person experiencing any anxiety, depression, or phobias?


Is the person oriented to time, place, and person?


Is the person able to read, write, and use the telephone without difficulty?


Is the person able to use public transportation, or arrange to take a cab?


Is the person able to perform routine housekeeping tasks (e.g. laundry, cooking, cleaning)


Is the person able to handle maintenance needs?


Is the person able to prepare meals and eat regularly?


Is the person able to bath independently?


Is the person able to dress appropriately?


Is the person able to manage their own finances?


Is the person able to handle their own banking and financial needs?


Is the person able to write checks & balance their checkbook?


Is the person able to exercise good judgment, and make sound decisions?


Is the person able to manage their own medications?


Is the person able to go shopping for groceries?


Is the person able to maintain relationships with family and friends?


Is the person able to walk, climb stairs, and remain standing?


Is the person able to easily and safely get up and down from a chair?


Is the person able to fall asleep and stay asleep?


Is the person able to remember family names, and appointments?


Is the person able to safely see & operate appliances?


Is the person able to drive?


Is the person able to hear the phone ring, and understand a conversation?


Is the person able to participate in leisure activities?


Is the person expressing any issues or concerns?


Is the person experiencing a sudden weight loss or gain?


Is the person experiencing any health concerns?


Is the person experiencing any bruises or cuts?


Is there any evidence that the person is the victim of fraud or abuse?

Communication is Key

It is only natural that when we become scared or concerned about an elder, our first impulse is to express our concerns, and immediately look to "fix" the problem. Unfortunately this can often make the situation worse. Unless you are faced with an emergency that threatens the elder\\'s safety or well-being, it is wise to take some time to gather information and properly assess the situation, prior to taking any action.

As we said earlier, you are now faced with a delicate balancing act, ensuring an elder\\'s health and safety, while maintaining their independence and dignity. Effective communication is key to ensuring that the elder and their loved ones can talk openly about their feelings, needs, and desires moving forward. Once the elder has shared what they would like to see happen, and you have gathered information about available resources, you can now work together on creating a realistic plan of action. It is crucial to allow the elder a sense of influence and control regarding decisions affecting their future.

If the history of your relationship with the elder, has been a difficult one, you may wish to seek assistance from a professional (e.g. care manager, doctor, or therapist) in order to map out a strategy for moving forward. Keep in mind that in order for there to be success moving forward, you will need cooperation and by in from the elder.

Plan Ahead

When dealing with eldercare, taking a pro-active approach to planning is very important. Now is the time to begin planning for the future. The sooner you begin a dialogue with the elder about their future, the more time you will have to listen to their wants and needs, as well as to take concrete steps to complete legal documents (e.g. medical directives), and research viable resources (e.g. home health agencies, assisted living facilities.)

Signs of Elder Abuse

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, elder abuse may involve one or more of the following:

- Physical Abuse

- Physical abuse is willful infliction of physical pain, injury, or restraint. Signs may include:

- Bruises, marks, or welts around the arms, neck, wrist, and/or ankles

- Burns, often to the palms, soles, and buttocks

- Sprains and dislocations

- Frequent unexplained injuries

- Minimizing the importance of injuries or refusing to discuss them

- Refusing to go to the same emergency department for repeated injuries

It is important to note that these symptoms may also occur as a result of health conditions or medications. If symptoms appear, they should be promptly investigated to determine and remedy the cause.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish, such as humiliation, - intimidation, or threatening. Signs may include:

- Lack of communication or responsiveness

- Unreasonable fear or suspicion

- Disinterest in socializing

- Chronic physical or psychiatric health problems

- Evasiveness

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. Signs may include:

- Unexplained bleeding from the vagina or anus

- Underwear that is torn or bloody

- Bruised breasts

- Venereal diseases

- Vaginal infections

Financial or Material Exploitation

Financial or material exploitation involves improperly using the resources of an older person, without his/her consent, for someone else\\'s benefit. Signs may include:

- Life circumstances that don\\'t match with the size of the elder\\'s estate

- Large withdrawals from bank accounts

- Switching bank accounts

- Unusual ATM activity

- Signatures on checks don\\'t match elder\\'s signature


Neglect is the failure of a caretaker to provide goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness. Neglect may involve abandonment or denial of food or health related services. Signs of neglect may include:

- Sunken eyes

- Weight loss

- Extreme thirst

- Bed sores

- Excessive dirt or odor on body or clothing

- Glasses, hearing aids, dentures, and walking devices in poor condition or missing

- Inappropriate dress



Available Resources

National Center on Elder Abuse




US Administration on Aging



American Psychological Association





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For more information on eldercare planning. click on Advanced Care Planning.

 Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. has over 28 years of experience providing services for individuals, couples, families, and organizations.  Our mission is to provide a broad range of high quality counseling, outreach, and consultation services to help clients assess their needs, evaluate their relationships, define their goals, and design action plans that includes specific and practical steps to achieve those goals.


Our organizational goals are to:

  - provide services regardless of race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion
  - respect our clients\\' beliefs
  - support our clients\\' individuality, diversity, and unique needs
  - preserve our clients\\' independence, dignity, and confidentiality
  - offer services to individuals, couples, and families
  - consult with professionals, businesses, and other organizations
  - design and run effective Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  - conduct quality educational programs


The Caregiver Resource Center is a division of Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc.  Our mission is to assist seniors, people with special needs and their families; in understanding the aging process, facilitating open communication; and providing information, support and guidance through the caregiving process.

Our goals are to:

  - offer services that will help preserve an elder\\'s health, safety and quality of life; while at the same time allowing them to maintain their independence and dignity.
  - provide support, understanding, and guidance to all person\\'s who are directly or indirectly responsible for the well-being of an elder; in an effort to improve the quality of their lives.



In addition to working with seniors, people with special needs and their families; The Caregiver Resource Center also provides a spectrum of services for businesses and their employees.

Our services help maximize employee productivity, sustain supervisors\\' focus on operations, and equips senior management with an effective cost management tool.

We are available to provide services on a case-by-case basis, or as a full service company program.

The Caregiver Resource Center
a division of
Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc.
PO Box 122
Cos Cob (Greenwich), CT 06807-0122

For more information or to request a consultation, please contact:
Linda A. Ziac,

(203) 861-9833

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Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. and The Caregiver Resource Center have a company policy that the company\\'s website does not display advertisements, nor do we host or receive funding from advertising, or from the display of commercial content.  

Any reproduction of the content of this website site is strictly prohibited, without prior written permission from Employee Assistance Professionals, Inc. and The Caregiver Resource Center.

Updated 3/1/2023


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