FIle photo: Observe your ailing parent. Is he or she down or depressed?

There are many people dedicated to the care and comfort of our aged. However, these circumstances can also be strenuous and lead to abuse. 

Here are a few simple guidelines to ensure your loved one is in safe hands:

Level of training

It is important to conduct an interview with a prospective caregiver. Ensure you treat this like a job interview and convey the importance of the task, after all you are entrusting this person with your loved one's well-being. The person should have basic care giving knowledge and experience and should provide their background information to you.


Always get a referral from an agency or organisation, such as Tafta or a reputable nursing service or company.

Ask questions

During the interview ask practical questions that pertain you your family member's needs. For example if the person is bed bound, ask if they have cared for someone in this position before. More importantly ask what they would do in particular situations, such as how they would feed or bath the person. It is important to engage with the would be care giver to ensure the best care for your loved one. This also sets a standard as you want the best possible care for your loved one.

Ad hoc monitoring

If you are leaving your parent, grandparent or family member alone with a caregiver it is important to do surprise visits. Also make contact with the neighbours, to ensure you know what's going while you are at work. These measures prevent would be abusers and help especially if the person can not speak verbalise or has a condition such as Alzheimer's.

Panic response

Alarm companies sell mobile panic response buttons which can ensure someone comes to the assistance of your aged family member should they be in danger. Often the old person can not scream or run. You can get creative though and use a whistle, bell or other item to signal to family members in the house or neighbours that they need help.

Be vigilant

Observe your ailing parent. Is he or she down or depressed? A person who is emotionally abused may flinch or cower when people raise their voices. It's important educate yourself in this regard.

Physical abuse is more visible and comes in various forms. Don't dismiss redness on a bed bound person. Ask. Pressure sores for example occur when the person isn't turned often enough, which should be every two hours and can be alleviated with a rub. Sometimes a pre-existing medical condition can contribute to redness.


It is imperative to report cases of abuse to the police. Most of us don't realise how rife abuse of the aged is, it is crime, set in law and an obligation to report these incidences. The worse cases that result in fatalities make the news; however, many go undetected for years. The law is very clear, abuse of the elderly – any action that causes harm or distress to an aged person – is a crime.

* Tafta is non-profit organisation. It's mission is to alleviate distress and promote the wellbeing of older people.