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Abuse of elderly by caregivers hits record high in Japan

Kyodo

The number of confirmed cases of abuse of the elderly by caregivers at nursing facilities hit a record high of 300 in fiscal 2014 and nearly doubled from 2012, government data showed Friday, another headache for the increasingly graying country.

Including abuses by relatives, the total number of cases of abuse of the elderly rose to 16,039 from 15,952 a year earlier, and 25 people died as a result of such abuse, four more than in the previous year, according to the annual survey by the welfare ministry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is seeking to create new homes to accommodate 500,000 elderly to reduce the number of people who have to leave their jobs to take care of family members.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry acknowledged the need to enhance training for young and inexperienced caregivers to deal with an expected increase in the users of nursing care facilities.

The problem of maltreatment of the elderly at nursing care facilities is seen to have become more serious, signaled by revelations last year about abusive treatment of residents at facilities affiliated with a major nursing care service company.

At one of the facilities, in Kawasaki, three residents died from falling from a veranda from November and December 2014, and staffers have also been found to have committed theft or assaulted the elderly.

In the ministry survey, about 80 percent of elderly people abused by caregivers suffer from dementia. In a multiple-choice question, 63.8 percent said they had been physically abused, while 43.1 percent said they had experienced mental and verbal abuse, including being ignored.

In the questionnaire, 16.9 percent of the reported victims said they had experienced economic abuse such as embezzlement of their savings, 8.5 percent said they had faced neglect by nursing care services and 2.6 percent said they had been sexually abused.

Among staffers who mistreated the elderly at nursing care facilities, those under age 30 accounted for the largest portion, at 22.0 percent.

As for the reasons for such abuse, municipalities cited problems in staffers’ education, knowledge and nursing care skills, as well as ways of controlling their own feelings.

The number of cases of abuse by paid caregivers stood at 221 in fiscal 2013 and was 155 in 2012.

The number of relative-involved abuse cases stood at 15,739 in 2014, roughly the same level from the previous year. A total of 40.3 percent of abusers were reported to be the victim’s son, 19.6 percent were the husband and 17.1 percent were a daughter.

  • FunkyB

    This issue won’t go away unless working conditions and training programs are improved for careworkers, Many are on contracts from dispatch agencies that treat them as contract workers, provide low pay and poor benefits. The dispatch companies and facilities don’t care about problems as long as the money keeps rolling in. Also, a lot of older people with dementia and similar disorders are impossible to control and are a crushing burden on their relatives. The term “abuse” needs to be considered in this context.