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Airdate: Apr 14, 2017
Scientist: Karen Roberto

Rethinking Elder Care - the Dark Side

Rethinking Elder Care - the Dark Side
Uncovering elder abuse is no easy task.

Rethinking Elder Care - Dark Side of Caregiving

Taking care of a older family member who is sick or disabled has its own set of challenges and can sometimes lead to elder abuse. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Roberto: There's unfortunately a dark side of families. We see that family members often prey on their elders and are abusive to them.

Karen Roberto is a university distinguished professor of gerontology at Virginia Tech. Throughout the course of her career, she's conducted interviews with scores of elders.

Roberto: It isn't frequently that a person will say, "I've been abusive to my loved one." But it's surprising how often they will talk to us about their frustrations and be very sad about them. So the caregiver - they're kind of on the brink of the stress of the situation, where they yell or they just have to walk away because they're not understanding what's happening.
In caregiving situations, oftentimes the stress rises to such a level that their actions are such that are on the verge of being abusive. They may get frustrated, so they yell or they scream at the person or call them names. Elder abuse - it's a hard topic.
A lot of the underreporting I think goes back to how people identify abuse. Particularly what we see is that the older mother doesn't want to talk about a son or a daughter who's been taking her money, or who's been leaving her alone or not getting her medications when she needs it. So it's a very tricky and very difficult area to navigate.

We'll hear more about the challenges of elder care in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.