June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. There is so much to say about the neglect, abuse, and exploitation of older adults in Georgia. Let’s start with the fact that 1 in 9 adults over the age of 60 are abused. According to the GBI, there were 2,082 criminal charges brought against elder abuse perpetrators in 2016. This was an increase from 366 in 2010.
As the number of older adults grows in our state, we have an increasing number of potentially vulnerable adults. Recent stats show that one in five Georgians are elderly or disabled. In addition to the growing number of potential victims, Georgia has been working hard to educate law enforcement, district attorneys, mandated reporters, and the community about this growing epidemic.
Despite the increase in elder abuse cases, it is still one of the most unreported and undetected crimes in the United States.
Substance use disorder (that is, alcohol and/or drug abuse) among those aged 65 and up is often underestimated and under-diagnosed. The number of those suffering with these issues is on the rise (as evidenced by the stats on ER visits), but those accessing treatment for addiction is not increasing at the same rate. This “silent epidemic” is dangerous. Addiction in late-life can be caused by a variety of factors, and it take many different forms. But drug or alcohol abuse among the elderly is particularly dangerous as compared with those in mid-life because senior citizens are more susceptible to the deteriorating effects of drugs and alcohol. Individuals over 65 have a decreased ability to metabolize these substances, and they have an increased brain sensitivity to the chemicals. This makes it dangerous for seniors to use drugs or alcohol at all, even if the person isn’t addicted. Along the same line, there are a high number of seniors using benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, pain, or insomnia. These are some of the most dangerous prescription drugs for seniors and are highly addictive. The rate of senior citizens addicted to benzos has increased every year.
The key to getting treatment is to first identify the problem and then to speak up. The following are signs of substance abuse in older adults:
Today is National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD)! NHDD started in 2008 as a way to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about advance care planning, and this year NHDD is whole week (starting today). For Georgians this week is all about getting people to talk to their loved ones about their healthcare wishes and to complete a Georgia Advance Directive. So, let’s start talking!
First, what is the Georgia Advance Directive?
It is a statutory document that combines the healthcare power of attorney and living will into one document. It is the primary advance care planning tool in Georgia and has four main goals:
Names someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot or do not want to make your own healthcare decisions.
Communicates your treatment preferences if you are ever in a coma or diagnosed with a terminal illness and cannot speak for yourself.
States your wishes for cremation or burial.
Allows you to recommend a guardian if you ever need a guardian in the future.
Who Needs an Advance Directive?
Almost every Georgian over the age of 18 should have an Advance Directive in place. This is not a form just for the elderly or the disabled. Accidents, sudden illnesses and healthcare crises are equal opportunity events that can cause severe impairment in any of us at anytime. Completing an Advance Directive proactively (before it’s too late) will authorize an informed person to make your important healthcare decisions should you be unable to do so.
Where can I find the form?
This is a statutory form and can be found for free online. You can download a copy here. After you print it out, complete it with your loved ones, sign it, and then have two witnesses sign it. No notary or attorney is required.
What do I do with the form once completed?
You should give a copy of this completed form to people who might need it, such as your health care agent(s), your family, and your physician. Keep a copy of this completed form at home in a place where it can easily be found if it is needed. Do not keep it in a safe or a safety deposit box. Review this completed form periodically to make sure it still reflects your wishes.
Completing a Georgia Advance Directive is an important step in planning ahead for future incapacity. It is never too early to talk to your loved ones about yours (and their heatlhcare wishes). We address this issue with each of our clients and their families, and we help them complete an advance directive when appropriate. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
What would you do if your spouse became suicidal in the middle of the night? What if you started having thoughts of suicide? Who would you call if you found your elderly mother disoriented and acting bizarrely one afternoon during a regular visit? How would you help your uncle with a substance use problem that continues to get worse? Knowing what to do in a mental health crisis goes beyond common sense—you must know the resources in your area that you can trust in such tough situations. Our clinical social workers work with individuals in one-on-one or group therapy during normal business hours. Our sessions are scheduled and not usually in response to a crisis. It is our goal to avoid any mental health crises from occurring through ongoing treatment, but we are prepared to connect with crisis teams when needed. Here is a list of the mental health emergency resources in Georgia:
Georgia Crisis and Access Line— A free 24/7 helpline providing mental health crisis assistance and access to mental health resources throughout the state of Georgia 1-800-715-4225 mygcal.com
9-1-1-For emergencies in which law enforcement may be called, ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer
Bookmark this information and share with others. It’s important to know who to call when a crisis occurs. If you have questions during business hours, please contact us at (678) 637-7166 or email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
In February of 2018, our owner and Clinical Director, Laura Jalbert, shared some insights into our practice and the unique aspects of our work with older adults on Caregiver Connection, a radio program on NewsTalk AM1160, with Aysha Cooper. You can hear the interview by clicking the link below. It’s a quick listen and very informative.
Updated February 2019: The radio show is no longer available.
Welcome to Mindful Transitions’ page for News, Views and Social Media!
We are glad you are here! Our inspiration for this blog is to provide helpful information and healing resources to support older individuals with mental health needs and those in caregiving roles (either professional or familial roles). As licensed clinical social workers, we believe that every single human being deserves to have trusted support during challenging seasons of life. We believe that you have the capacity to create a life that feels good to you and that you can make the transition through difficult times feeling whole and at peace. Month after month, we’ll be delving into various mental health and aging topics. Check in on our blog regularly as we share info on mental health, aging, personal growth, and resources in Metro Atlanta. We strive to keep our followers informed of advancements in therapy for older adults, the latest research on best practices for older adults, and changes in mental health and aging resources in Metro Atlanta.
If you are new to Mindful Transitions, please visit our About Us Page to check our awesome team of clinical social workers and our FAQ Page to learn more about our practice. If you are seeking help for yourself or someone you know, please contact us at (678) 637-7166 or email at email@example.com