Five Ways to Fight Against Elder Abuse
Approximately 1 in 6 individuals aged 60 years and older are elder abuse victims. It is a growing problem that is seriously underreported with only 1 in 24 cases ever brought to authorities. Abuse numbers are higher in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, places where you should be able to trust for the care of your loved one. Here are some things you can do to fight against elder abuse.
1. Avoid Social Isolation
As people grow older, it’s essential for them to maintain a strong social network. This can be as simple as getting to know neighbors or other residents of the long-term care facility they live in. Involve you and your family members in social clubs or volunteering efforts. Staying in touch with other seniors can help them build friendships. It helps avoid social isolation that puts them at a greater risk for becoming a victim of abuse, neglecte, or financially exploitation by other in the senior facility.
2. Learn Signs of Elder Abuse Victims
The best way that you can put a stop to elder abuse is to know the signs. When subjected to abuse, elder abuse victims might experience any of the following:
- Isolation: Caregivers might isolate victims from friends, family members, and other facility residents to keep them from telling anyone about their experience. You should be concerned if you see your relative keeping to themselves frequently.
- Physical injuries: While an occasional bump and bruise might be normal, common injuries should be a red flag that your loved one isn’t being cared for properly. They may be a regular victim to injury from a caregiver. The caregiver may leave the elderly resident alone for long periods of time, forcing the elderly resident to care for themselves. This negligence increases the risk of injuries, especially in the case of limited mobility, and should be reported.
- Sudden decline in health: When an elder is a victim of abuse or neglect, they might experience increased health issues like malnutrition and reduced mobility. These can rapidly progress into larger health problems. They should be address them as soon as possible.
- Poor basic hygiene: Caregivers have a responsibility to ensure that seniors maintain an adequate level of personal hygiene. This means bathing them regularly, brushing their teeth and hair, and dressing them in clean clothes every day. If your loved one appears dirty, soiled, or disheveled on a regular basis, it’s time to intervene.
- Medication mismanagement: Victims may not be given their medications on time, or given them at all. This has severe and disastrous effects on their health. If your loved one seems uncertain about their prescription names, amounts, and history, this could be a sign that they aren’t receiving their medicine regularly, and you should bring it to the attention of a facility administrator.
- Poor mental health: Someone who has been a victim of abuse may exhibit drastic mood changes. They often become depressed with feelings of worthlessness or shame. They may isolate themselves from others, or they could appear angry or resentful toward anyone who tries to interact with them.
- Missing money: Financial exploitation is another type of elder abuse that affects at least 1 in 20 Unauthorized charges to bank accounts and credit cards should be investigated. Missing mortgage and tax payments are another sign that your family member’s funds are being incorrect financial management by the party they’ve put in charge.
If you have noticed any of these signs of elder abuse, it’s best to report them to the appropriate authorities right away. Quick action will help keep the problem from getting worse and hold the proper people accountable so that they won’t be able to abuse anyone else.
3. Know Where to Turn for Help
If your loved one is in a long-term care facility, you should report any misconduct to the facility administrator, who should then take immediate action to investigate the incident and secure your loved one’s health and safety. If you feel that the administrator’s actions were inadequate, your next step should be to contact your local Adult Protective Services agency. They can direct you to the right resource to have the abuse investigated. If the investigation determines that abuse has taken place, you should contact an elder abuse lawyer right away to protect your rights.
4. Watch Out for Scams
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), seniors are scammed for billions of dollars every year. Financial abuse ranges widely from strangers offering “exclusive” investment opportunities and help with Social Security benefits to financial exploitation by trusted family members, friends, or caretakers. Taking the following steps will help protect against financial scams and fraud:
- Never give out financial or personal information to a stranger over the phone.
- Speak with a trusted relative or lawyer before signing any document.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222. This will help minimize unwanted calls from telemarketers.
5. Open Lines of Communication
One of the reasons that elders don’t report abuse is because seniors feel guilty or ashamed about their experience. Some might even be afraid of retaliation from their abuser. These feelings can result in a rapid decline in mental health, so it’s important to emphasize open communication with elderly loved ones. When they reveal that they have been a victim of abuse, never make them feel embarrassed or responsible for what happened to them. Give them clarity that you’re on their side and will help them hold the abuser responsible.
Call Your Local Elder Abuse Lawyer
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we represent elder abuse victims in Bakersfield and the surrounding area. Has your loved one has experienced abuse at the hands of a caretaker or residential facility? If yes, we’ll fight for you to stop elderly abuse and make the wrongful abuser pays for their actions. Contact our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced elder abuse lawyer.