As our loved ones age, they become vulnerable to several different forms of elder abuse. Studies show that about 10% of Americans ages 60 and older have dealt with some form of elder abuse, and that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to authorities.
How do you help prevent your elderly loved ones from experiencing abuse? Start by looking for signs of abuse, and then use proven strategies for stopping and preventing any further abuse.
Different Types of Elder Abuse
It’s important to note that elder abuse can take many forms. In short, if elders are being taken advantage of in any way or being prevented from leading the life they want to lead, that is considered elder abuse.
While elder abuse can take a wide range of forms, it often falls into 5 general categories:
1. Physical Abuse:
Signs of physical abuse can include burns, bruises and broken bones. Also, any type of sexual abuse would also fall under physical abuse.
Signs of neglect include unexplained weight loss, poor hygiene, bedsores, medical needs that are going unaddressed, etc. Keep in mind that self-neglect is always a strong possibility when elders live alone.
3. Verbal Abuse:
When a caretaker or loved one is using their power to control an elder, that is considered verbal abuse. This includes any sort of threats made to produce specific behaviors.
Emotional abuse is closely related to and sometimes overlapping verbal abuse. Look for signs of elders withdrawing from things they typically enjoy doing. Emotional abuse may also lead to depression.
5. Financial Abuse:
Everyone from family members to strangers may attempt to take advantage of elders financially. Look for signs of any sudden change in an elder’s financial situation.
Ways to Prevent Elder Abuse
It’s incredibly unfortunate that elder abuse is a reality for so many to deal with. But, the good news is that loved ones are in a unique position to identify and prevent elder abuse. Use the following 6 strategies that ensure that your elderly loved ones are free from abuse:
1. Avoid Isolation:
Isolation is as dangerous to seniors as any health issue. Whether your elderly loved ones live at home alone or in some sort of senior living community, make sure they avoid isolation.
2. Stay in Close Contact:
One key to identifying elder abuse is looking for changes in mood or behavior. When you stay in close contact with your elderly loved ones, visiting them or calling them on a regular basis, you are in a much better position to detect changes in mood or behavior.
3. Encourage Seniors to Stay Engaged and Active:
Your elderly loved ones have spent a lifetime developing relationships, interests and involvements in different activities. Do your best to ensure your loved ones stay engaged in the things they enjoy most as they get older. Help them get to church, drive them to visit friends, take them to do the things they’ve always loved to do. Often times, as people get older, they depend on their loved ones to help them maintain access to what they enjoy.
4. Keep Seniors Apprised of Their Financial Situations:
Your elderly loved ones should be aware of their financial situations. They may need help or counsel to make sure that their money is properly taken care of, but they should always have a firm idea of where they stand financially.
5. Educate Seniors About Solicitations:
Make sure that elderly loved ones know to be cautious about financial decisions. Unfortunately, some choose to prey on seniors via mail, telephone and even online solicitations. Even those closest to seniors can solicit them to change their wills or otherwise make serious financial decisions without appropriate consideration. Encourage your elderly loved ones to seek trusted counsel from multiple sources before making serious financial decisions.
6. Take Any and All Warning Signs Seriously:
As a loved one to a senior, you are an advocate and protector. It is your responsibility to look for warning signs and to take each of them seriously. Don’t be afraid to follow-up and ask questions of those who spend time around and/or take care of your elderly loved one. If you don’t do it, who will?
First In Care: Where Seniors are Our Passion
At First In Care, we serve seniors in Bradenton, FL and surrounding areas with a range of services that help them thrive as they age, whether they live at home or in a senior living community.
We provide everything from meals and transportation to respite and hospice care services. If you have an elderly loved one who needs a specific type of care and support in the Bradenton area, let First In Care help.
Get in touch with us at www.Firstincare.com to request more information about our services.