A recent double-blind, randomised controlled trial found that elder abuse of older individuals with chronic illnesses, including dementia, was reduced by an educational and social support intervention for carers.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Elder abuse is described as “an intentional act or failure to act by a carer or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” Coaches met with carers weekly for up to 12 sessions during the Comprehensive Older Adult and Carer Help (COACH) intervention assessed in this research to listen to their concerns and lead them through a specifically customised behavioural and educational intervention.
Participants were given caregiving tools and coping methods, as well as maltreatment education so that they may be vigilant against abusive behaviours by themselves and others. A total of 80 carers were randomly assigned to either the COACH intervention or a control group.
Treatment group caregivers reported less mistreatment against their care recipient, which dropped from 22.5 per cent at baseline to 0 per cent following the completion of the 3-month intervention. In the control group, reported rates did not change significantly.
“COACH was created to benefit older adults who rely on a caregiver and are particularly vulnerable to harm. It now stands out as the first intervention that has been shown to prevent elder mistreatment,” said corresponding author Zach Gassoumis, PhD, of the University of Southern California.
“Our study provides initial evidence that COACH may be immensely successful and a potential lifeline for the millions of older adults who experience abusive behaviour each year.”
(with inputs from ANI)