How to Prevent Elder Abuse
Nobody wants to think about a defenseless loved one being wronged in anyway, but unfortunately, elder abuse is a significant problem. It is estimated that in the United States, more than 500,000 seniors are believed to be victims of abuse and/or neglect each year. The number is actually probably much higher, because many victims are unwilling or unable to report the abuse.
Elder abuse is generally defined as the following:
- Physical Abuse - inflicting pain or injury, constraining by physical or chemical means
- Sexual Abuse - any non-consensual sexual contact
- Emotional Abuse - inflicting mental main or distress such as humiliation and threatening
- Neglect - failure to provide food, shelter and basic human necessities
- Abandonment - desertion by a caregiver who had assumed the responsibility of an older person
- Financial Abuse -exploitation of a senior's finances in way
To protect the people you love and care for, it's important to be involved and aware. The following steps are vital to keeping your loved ones safe.
Choose a caregiver wisely - It's best to make sure caregivers are thoroughly screened with an agency. You want to be sure that your caregiver has the appropriate training and background checks. Additionally, take the time to interview potential caregivers and make sure you feel good about their abilities and compatibility with your loved one. If you choose to hire privately, you may be at risk in many ways.
Check on them often - whether they are at home still caring for themselves, have an in-home caregiver or reside in a nursing facility, it's important to have a good sense of the situation. Check in unexpectedly with visits if you can or ask appropriate questions by phone to the loved one and any caregivers.
- Look for signs of physical abuse -look for bruises, abrasions, broken bones that aren't easily explained (bruises around the breasts or genital area could indicate sexual abuse).
- Look for signs of emotional abuse - be aware of changes in personality, withdrawal from activities, depression and strained or tense relationships with caregivers or others in contact with the senior.
- Look for signs of neglect - Bedsores, poor hygiene, weight loss and uncared for medical needs can also be a signs of neglect.
- Check on their finances often - check their wallet if you provide cash and their bank account for large withdrawals or many small withdrawals, especially if they don't access their own money. Be sure to educate them about possible scams and be clear about who is allowed to help them with money matters.
- Ensure that caregivers have a break - exhaustion and frustration can be common with long-term care of someone relatively helpless, but this is never an excuse for mistreatment. Check on regular caregivers to ensure that they have adequate resources for supplies they need, support, and a way to separate from the responsibilities and rejuvenate at times.
Being aware and involved with your loved one is the best way to prevent abuse. Unfortunately, however, these cruelties do occur. If you have any suspicion that your loved one is being abused in anyway immediately contact appropriate authorities.
ElderCaring is a family owned business operating since 2001 with locations in Washington D.C., Virginia and Southern California. Our company and the caregivers are setting a new standard of care in the Coachella Valley. Together we have raised the bar for “In-Home Care Services” and believe that the “ElderCaring Way” of doing business exceeds those of any other in-home care provider available.