A Guide to Preventing Elder Abuse
Each year, thousands of adults over 60 experience some form of elder abuse. According to the World Health Organization(WHO), 1 in 6 seniors have been abused in community settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. If you’re concerned about your elderly loved one being abused, taking the following steps can aid in preventing elder abuse.
Get Finances in Order
Your loved one should understand each aspect of their finances, including what their assets are and where their money is actually going. If they’re unable to handle their own financial matters, you can support them by ensuring they have the right legal protections in place. With a financial power of attorney, they will be able to designate a trusted family member or friend to act on their behalf and pay their bills. This can help them avoid financial exploitation by caregivers and other individuals who may try to take advantage of them.
Maintain Activity Level
Elderly people with limited mobility are more susceptible to abuse because they have to rely more heavily on their caregivers. Staying physically active, even in community settings, is essential to minimizing the risk of abuse and increasing their overall health and well-being.
Visiting your loved one frequently is one of the best ways to prevent elder abuse at a long-term care facility because regular check-ins allow you to evaluate their proper care. Elders who don’t have regular visitors are at an increased risk of being mistreated because caregivers may think that no one will notice the abuse taking place. If you are concerned abuse is happening, you should make a point to visit at different times of the day so that caregivers can’t anticipate your arrival. You will be able to monitor your loved one’s health and emotional state, and you’ll be able to more easily identify signs that indicate they have been abused. If you notice any extreme changes in their health, mood, activity, or living conditions, you should inquire about them right away.
Avoid Social Isolation
People know that elders who are experience social isolation are easier targets to take advantage of because they are distant from others. That’s why it’s so important to encourage keeping up with their friendships and engaging in social activities. You should be concerned if you regularly notice caregivers separating your loved one from others since isolation can lead to a rapid decline in emotional and cognitive health, making them an easier target for abusers.
Don’t Ignore Red Flags
If your loved one has an occasional bruise, it’s not usually a cause for alarm—but if you notice repeated instances of physical injuries, you should ask them about it. If they seem reluctant to talk about it or can’t tell you how they were harmed, they could be protecting the abuser in fear of retaliation. You should bring up your concerns to the facility administrator.
Signs of Elder Abuse
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.” There are several signs you can look for to identify abuse, including:
Frequent physical injuries
When an injury is inflicted upon an elderly individual as the result of non-accidental force, they are being physically abused. Speak with an admin if your elderly family member incurs frequent bruises, cuts, or broken bones. Make sure to report specific injuries right away. Keep a record handy for any minor or major injuries that you see.
If your loved one isn’t eating properly, they may lose weight quickly, appear dehydrated, and experience increased health problems. Firstly, malnutrition can cause a weakened immune system. Secondly, malnutrition decreases bone mass. Thirdly, malnutrition leads to cognitive difficulties and other health issues. As a result, when a caregiver fails to follow dietary guidelines, they neglect the nutritional needs of the individual.
Sudden decline in health
This could be a sign that your loved one isn’t receiving adequate health care at the facility. If they’re frequently sick or they can’t tell you the last time they saw a physician, follow up with the administrator.
Frequent dirty or disheveled appearance
You can notice if an elderly is experiencing neglect if they appear to be dirty. Another sign of neglect is if you notice their teeth are yellow or their hair is a mess. Check their clothes and bedding to are clean as well. Report any signs immediately so that way you can ensure staff are caring for your elderly family member properly.
Extreme behavioral and emotional changes
Those who experience abuse may exhibit changes in behavior and mental health. They may experience depression, act aggressive or resentful, or they may isolate themselves from others. You should find out what has changed to cause these behaviors.
Seniors lose billions of dollars every year due to financial abuse and fraud. They may have money stolen, or they can invest into a to a too-good-to-be-true scheme. People take advantage of the elder’s giving nature by asking for money. Other times, people will force them into signing over their assets. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on their finances and report any suspicious activity.
Reporting Elder Abuse
To report elder abuse, your first step should be to contact the facility administrator, who should investigate the incident. However, if you don’t feel comfortable speaking with the administrator, you can contact law enforcement or the local long-term care ombudsman. This agency will investigate the report and take the appropriate action for stopping the abuse.
Contact a Bakersfield Elder Abuse Lawyer
Spotting the warning signs and acting on them are keys to preventing elder abuse and neglect. Did your family member experience physically, emotionally, or financially elder abuse by someone? It’s time to consult with a Bakersfield elder abuse attorney at the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones. We work hard to bring the abuser to justice and they never hurt another person again. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.