Elder Abuse Prevention & Detection
Abuse against the elderly population is a growing concern as Americans are living longer today than ever before. Millions of elderly adults are victims of abuse each year. More than half of these elderly abuse cases go unreported to authorities. The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 6 seniors are abused in community settings like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The abuser is often someone in a caregiving role who harms the individual in an intentional manner. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to abuse, but you can help protect them by knowing the signs of elder abuse and how you can be apart of elder abuse prevention before it occurs in the first place.
Identifying Elder Abuse
The most common forms of elder abuse are physical, psychological, and financial. Elder abuse isn’t always obvious at first, so it’s crucial to pay attention to the following red flags to aid in elder abuse prevention.
While accidents can happen, you should notice these red flags when your elderly family member is showing signs of repeat physical injuries. Even if their injuries weren’t caused by physical violence, they could be the result of neglect, and you should investigate further. Signs include:
Look for unexplained bruising, cuts, or broken bones. Also, if your loved one has limited mobility yet consistently develops bedsores, it could mean that their caregivers aren’t giving them adequate care. If they spend a lot of time in bed, they should be shifted frequently to prevent prolonged pressure on the same area. Bedsores can be extremely painful and slow to heal. They can also lead to major complications like cellulitis, bone and joint infections, and even sepsis.
When an elderly person is being neglected, they may not receive their necessary medication on the prescribed schedule. This could cause their health to deteriorate very quickly. Ask your loved one about their medication history. If they seem confused or are unable to give you details, follow up with the administrator.
Poor personal hygiene:
When an older adult relies on another for their care, it’s essential that their basic needs are met. They should be bathed regularly and have clean clothes and bedding. If your loved one appears dirty or disheveled every time you visit, you should inquire about their hygiene care to make sure they’re getting the attention they deserve.
As a senior grows older, it’s very important they receive adequate nutrition. This may involve following a special diet plan. If no one follows this plan, the individual can become malnourished. Improper nutrition can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, low weight, respiratory issues, and even death. If your loved one has experienced an unexpected decline in health, it’s possible that a caregiver isn’t taking care of their nutritional needs.
Psychological abuse, also known as emotional abuse, can be devastating for the victim. The abuser may yell, threaten, ridicule, or otherwise intimidate them. The abuser will sometimes put the victim in isolation from friends and kept from participating in community activities for their own purpose. This emotional abuse can lead to feelings of anger, shame, or worthlessness. The elder may become severely depressed and withdrawn. If you notice any significant behavior changes in your loved one, you should attempt a discussion regarding their feelings. If they seem hesitant to talk about what’s going on, speak to the facility administrator.
Seniors lose millions of dollars due to financial exploitation each year. In many cases, people whom are closest to elderly adults tend to exploit them. These people may constantly ask them for money, or they may use the elder’s financial accounts without permission. You should keep an eye on their finances and be concerned if you notice unusual spending patterns or unpaid bills. To fully protect your loved one, it’s a good idea to have them establish a financial power of attorney and appoint someone trustworthy. This person will manage the person’s accounts on the elder’s behalf, which will help prevent others from gaining access.
Older adults are also frequent victims of scams. They should be wary of too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities and unknown callers who ask for their personal information. Financial abuse is the most underreported type of elder abuse because victims may feel embarrassed, but it’s important to let them know that they’re not alone and that there are things they can do to stop it from happening to someone else. If you have suspicions that a care taker is scamming your elderly family member out of money, report it to the police immediately.
Keys to Elder Abuse Prevention
Here are actions you can take to minimize the risk of elder abuse.
Visit your loved one regularly.
A elderly family member who receives visitation frequently is less likely to receive abuse in a community setting. When older adults don’t have visitors, caregivers may assume that no one will notice their mistreatment.
Bring up concerns to administrators.
Even if the issue is relatively minor, it’s important that you let administrators know about any of your concerns. This will allow them to address the problem before it escalates into a larger issue.
Encourage your elderly family member to be social with other members inside the facility community. Frequently engaging in community activities can help reduce their risk of abuse.
Research potential facilities.
When looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility, be sure to research each facility beforehand so that you can look for any red flags. A high caregiver-to-patient ratio, for example, can lead to the caregiver stress and burnout that often results in abuse.
For Instance, if you suspect elder abuse is taking place on a physical, psychological, or a financial level, you need to report it to the appropriate authorities immediately. If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, you should report the mistreatment to the facility administrator. Their job is to then investigate the incident and use the proper disciplinary actions against the abuser. In cases where severe abuse or neglect is concerned, contact law enforcement right away. You can also report elder abuse to your local Adult Protective Services (APS).
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones in Bakersfield will help you prepare your case. We’ll to protect your rights and work to ensure the abuser is held accountable for their actions. Call us today for a free consultation with a Bakersfield elder abuse.