'Abusive behaviour' towards people with dementia by family carers is common
23 January 2009
Half of family carers of people with dementia report some abusive behaviour towards the person they are caring for and one third report 'significant' levels of abuse, according to research led by Dr Claudia Cooper (UCL Mental Health Sciences) published today in the 'British Medical Journal' .
The paper authors feel that this is unsurprising, as most people with dementia are being cared for by dedicated family or friends, often with little support.
Dr Cooper, lead author of the study, said: "Many people think about elder abuse in terms of "lashing out" and other similar acts, but abuse as defined by government guidelines* can be as simple as shouting or swearing at the person being cared for."
The UK government is currently consulting about a revision of their policy for safeguarding vulnerable adults. This focuses entirely on preventing abuse by paid carers, but in light of their clinical experience the authors wanted to find out how common abusive behaviour is and highlight that policy on abuse will be ineffective unless it is realistic about the problems that family carers are facing.
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