When his mother had repeated injuries reportedly from attacks by other residents at her elder care facility, Camille Parent decided to investigate by installing a hidden camera in her room. To his shock and horror, he did not see footage of other residents harming his mother, but blatant abuse and disregard from the caretakers.
While this specific footage is from 2013, elder abuse is a serious and ongoing problem. In the United States, an aging baby-boomer generation and medical advances prolonging life expectancy means that an increasingly larger number of people are in need of part- or full-time elder care and support services. Tragically, those who are the most dependent upon the mercy of others are also at the highest risk of abuse, and many suffer in silence. Even without the dementia that kept Parent’s mother from recalling the incidents of abuse she faced, seniors are no less vulnerable to the same fears that keep abuse victims from speaking out against their abusers.
While some elder care positions require advanced training and can be part of a lucrative career, many positions are entry-level with little training and minimal compensation. Although elder care requires a lot of physical labor and immense compassion, those who are lovingly dedicated to their jobs are poorly compensated. According to Chron, the average home health aid earns about $20,000 a year, and the average nurse aid, orderly or attendant at a care facility earns only slightly more. I can’t help but wonder if better wages would allow care facilities to be more selective about who they hire, avoiding some of these types of cases. Still, I know that even providing for this level of care is a great financial strain for many families.
What is your reaction to this story? Do you have any ideas for changing this atrocious situation? Alternatively, if there was a caregiver who went above and beyond to help you or a loved one feel cared for, please share those stories as well! We don’t want the few rotten apples to spoil our perception of those who sacrifice every day to care for our elders.