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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Friday, November 20, 2020

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that elder abuse is a significant problem in the United States, but there are things we can do to prevent it. If you suspect that an older loved one might be the victim of elder abuse, you should not look the other way. Most abuse happens to seniors who are vulnerable. A California elder law attorney can help you address the problem and explain how to prevent elder abuse.

Elder abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect

Most of the abusers are the people closest to the older adult – friends, caregivers, family, and trusted people like spiritual advisers. Every year, many elderly people have to get treatment in the emergency room for nonfatal assaults or are the victims of homicide, and the numbers are trending upward.

6 Tips on How to Prevent Elder Abuse

The CDC offers these suggestions to empower you in protecting your older loved ones and preventing elder abuse:

  1. Look into the possibility of getting the senior out of the house every day to go to an adult day program. If the abuser is someone who lives with the older adult, that person might need a break from caregiver duties. The senior would get nutritious food and time away from the abuser. The staff at the day program can keep an eye on how the senior is doing and report suspicions of abuse to the authorities.
  2. If you see signs or you have reason to suspect abuse or neglect, you can contact the Adult Protective Services agency in the older adult’s area. They can investigate and take action. In the event of an emergency, call the police or 911.
  3. Explore whether the caregiver is overwhelmed with responsibilities. Many caregivers also balance working and raising their families, in addition to caring for an older relative. When other relatives, friends, or local respite care groups step in and help, the caregiver can get much-needed help. Also, there are counseling programs that can help caregivers deal with stress and exhaustion.
  4. Learn about the signs of elder abuse, then educate those close to your older loved one about this behavior and the symptoms of elder abuse. Some people do not realize, for example, that taking advantage of an older relative can be financial abuse or that neglect can be abuse.
  5. The process of growing older can cause changes in the appearance, mood, and behavior of a person. It is essential to learn the difference between ordinary aging and the signs of elder abuse.
  6. Make it part of your schedule to check in regularly on older friends and relatives, particularly people who have few loved ones living in the area. Consider getting a socially isolated senior on the list of an agency or community organization that conducts routine visits with elderly individuals to check in on them and provide some companionship.

It can be heartbreaking to discover that someone you love has been the victim of abuse, whether that is physical abuse like slapping, neglect like malnutrition, or financial abuse like people taking their money through fraud. You might feel powerless to do anything, but a California elder law attorney can investigate the situation and advise you on your options to make the abuse stop. Contact us today.


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