As a compassionate population, we should protect the most vulnerable ones. There are so many resources out there that help people move forward. We tend to forget that we would benefit greatly from bringing up the ones in need. Because of this, we have plenty of programs to protect children. There are entire organizations that focus solely on the youth. That’s tremendous. They should.
But more often than not, the elderly get left out of the conversation. At most, they get a mention and a small piece of the pie. There are so many factors contributing to a lack of resources moving towards the elderly population. Most of them can be summed up in terms of cost, follow up, and compliance on the healthcare side—the most egregious fall under neglect or, even worse, active abuse. Regardless, protecting the elderly is of the utmost importance.
In our technological age, it’s the elderly population that has been left in the dust. Everything is moving so fast. ’Because of this momentum, we should be taking more and more precautions with, through, and around emerging tech. If you have senior loved ones and wish to protect them, here’s how you can do it in the sphere of the internet.
Staffing is a huge issue when it comes to the senior world. We hope and pray that the individuals working in nursing homes are the most qualified people they can find. More often than not, they’re just the least costly. If you have a family member or a loved one in a nursing home, it stands to reason that you’d want them to be in the best care you can find. This is why we have to do independent checks, especially when it comes to staffing. It’s hard enough having them far away from us. It’s even more difficult knowing that we can’t actively provide the care we want to provide in our own space of living. Here are some tips on how to keep up with the nursing home staff.
We have a huge problem with abuse in this country. For one reason or another, case after case comes flooding law offices regarding elder abuse. Like most things about the elderly, we kind of push it under the rug. The bare minimum that we can do is make sure that the people around our loved ones are credible individuals. Due to staffing shortages, nursing homes tend to hire pretty much anyone they can find.
It’s not the registered nurses. It’s the orderlies and supporting staff that people have to look out for. Ask any Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer; physical and sexual abuse cases come in, and it is usually the supporting staff that gets charged with the crime. This is a very sad reality. Because of cases like these, one needs to be especially attentive with who is in charge of their elderly loved one’s care.
As much as possible, create a rapport with the staff and try to get the names of the people involved in the wing. Cross-reference that with your local open-source sexual predator database. If you can, ask the people in the front if there have been any new hires. They might be annoyed; they might not. Either way, it’s a safeguard for your peace of mind. After all, what are you paying for if not the safety of your loved ones? The prevalence in which these cases happen is reason enough to be a bit on the cautious side. Using the tools available to us online is just part of doing our due diligence.
If you are an individual that’s been authorized to handle and review your elderly loved one’s medical records, do so regularly. Set a schedule to call and request access. You may have to drive down to see them for yourself. That’s good. If they have an online portal, that’s even better. Have them send you the encrypted documents through their facility’s electronic medical record system. Review them and see if there are any irregularities. You can ask for third medical advice through the phone if you have that resource open to you.
What you’re looking for is any sign of physical abuse or negligence. Bedsores, nosocomial infections, unexplained contusions are only a few signs. These are common signs that must be recorded on a medical record. Have them reviewed by a professional to see if there is anything you may need to do to take action. Hopefully, everything is fine. This precaution isn’t for everyone. Again, this is only available to individuals who have been given the responsibility to take care of these medical records through legal, written consent.
The simplest form of check is a call. Simply call your loved ones up and ask them how they’re doing. They’ve most likely been wanting to talk to you but really don’t want to be a burden on anyone. Just call them up to see how they’re doing. Ask them if the people there are nice. Most likely, they’ll have a lot to complain about. It’s fine. There’s a level of discomfort that’s present in a nursing home. Above all, check for any talk of abuse, even if it’s in passing or if he/she is actively trying to cover it up.
If you feel as if anything is wrong, then contact the charge nurse on duty. They get these calls fairly often. They’re used to it. Be sure not to be accusatory or insinuate anything going wrong. That will naturally antagonize them. Just try to get simple answers. Again, this goes hand in hand with the rapport building. You should actively partake in during the admission and early days of having an elder in their care.
Cases of abuse fall under some of our worst fears. They’re too common to be overlooked. Take these easy precautions and use technology to your advantage. You can stay on top of whatever situation might arise in the nursing home your family member is receiving care in.
Aside from using technology like online databases and checking up on their medical records, giving seniors access to their own personal devices is a great way to keep up with basic communication as well as guide them through modern information channels. The seniors of today were around during the Dotcom bubble. They were around to watch the rise of search engines. They’re not entirely lost when it comes to modern technology.
In fact, as of 2017, over 60% of people over the age of 65 are online, according to Pew Research Center. Sure, they might be more comfortable with an old fashioned way of communicating, but that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to adapt. Of course, they are! But engaging with the internet has its risks along with its rewards. There are a lot of people online that actively target people who are older. This is how you can protect them online from potential digital criminals.
The first thing you have to do is help set up their computer and devices. Yes, as a younger person, you probably detest having to do that. All the times they asked you how something works probably irked you to no end. But in this day and age, you really have to look out for them in that sphere. Setting up an antivirus is your first line of defense against the unsightly contents of spam and pop-ups. The good news is that Google and other major search engines tend to weed out sites with those potential threats. But, there still is the occasional rabbit hole that everyone who visits has to fall through while continually asking the internet questions.
There’s a sense of trust that people have when it comes to personal technology. There’s a bit of naïveté with the elderly, especially when it comes to putting in the info. That sense of security can lull certain people into a sense of security. It’s imperative that we prevent that from happening by putting safeguards in place. If your parents or grandparents are like everyone else’s, they’re not owing to be very happy about you messing with their things.
Assure them that you’re only trying to keep people from the internet from accessing their private information like their credit cards or their social security number. Most seniors are on Facebook. It is the unofficial social media platform for the elderly. Facebook also asks for phone numbers, credit card numbers, and other private information right off the bat. If they don’t want you messing with their devices, at least have a conversation about privacy settings.
Senior populations are generally not used to being bullied or disrespected. They shouldn’t be subjected to that kind of behavior by anyone, at any time. The thing is, the internet is unrelenting in its ability to dole out these kinds of attacks. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about posting and feedback. Disagreements online can turn ugly, and insults are hurled with no regard for what happens outside of the app. Ideally, they should be aware of that and try to view the communication platforms with a sense of stoicism. But if things get really bad, refer the case to the Adult Protective Services and local law enforcement. Any threats of violence and intimidation are to be taken seriously when it comes to the older population. One can’t be too careful.
If they’re on the internet, they’re most likely aware of common scams and viruses. They’re probably young enough to remember the “I Love You Virus” that was written by a student in The Philippines, and ran amuck in the American banking and business systems, exposing seriously weak security. As much as that kid got a nice job in the U.S. government, there are new, modern scams that aren’t as storybook-esque.
The top ones they should be aware of is the “you owe money” scam and the “your computer is infected” scam. Major companies don’t call if your computer is infected. This plays on the personable rapport that older folk often have with businesses. Why would somebody lie about a computer being infected? Also, since the financial system is so complex, the possibility of owing money is always there. These scams, most commonly in the form of email, should be avoided at all costs.
All of these precautions can be worked out and talked over. There’s a lot of safety that comes with actively using the internet. As long as they are open to it, try to install safeguards and ask them periodically about any suspicious or abusive activity online.
If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that the internet is filled with not-so-credible information. Sure, it’s a resource for comprehensive knowledge and fast answers. But it’s hard to avoid the strange rise of false information when it comes to current events and medical science.
A lot of bad information comes from anecdotes that sound credible. They all sound like someone we all know. There’s a post by a supposedly credible person or fake doctor accounts talking about secrets that they don’t want us to know. It’s all online. Most of it is harmless. Most of it is information about taking more vitamins or buying some sort of supplement. Aside from the possible supplement scam, most of it isn’t worrisome. But then there are posts about major illnesses. Cancer is something that people love to post about. There are so many herbal cures and diet fads that supposedly cure wild cellular mutations. There’s always a bit of science in it—enough to sell the point. But none of it is proven no matter how much the questionably sourced posts exclaims it is.
It’s important to let them explore the information without being judgemental. If we actively shoot down a bit of pseudoscience that brightened up their day a little, it might breed resentment. Big things that involve purchases and a refusal to receive treatment is what we’re looking for. But if an article says that eating more salad can do one thing or another, let them have that. It’s not for us to shut down.
Protecting our loved ones with and against the internet is the new normal of today’s tech world. It might be a bit much to take in, but as long as you keep tabs on who is around them, educate them about scams and potential hackers, and make sure that false information doesn’t affect treatment plans, you’ll be fine. But it’s always wise to keep a legal counsel you can trust just in case anything goes to the wayside. Legal protection is of the utmost importance, and any sort of elder abuse must be dealt with to the full extent of the law.