As we age, we like to think about retiring and how we will spend our “golden years”. Maybe we want to travel, spend more time with family, or enjoy hobbies we have put off for some time. What no one wants to consider happening however is elder abuse, which can occur in several environments, some unexpected. Elder abuse is a very real problem that robs seniors of their dignity, security, and safety.

We don’t want to see anyone encounter elder abuse, so we are arming you with this information so you have the knowledge and resources to protect you or your loved one. Up to five million older Americans – that’s 1 in 10 seniors, are abused every year, and the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion. If it doesn’t happen to you or a loved one, it could potentially happen to someone you know.

Luckily, the National Center on Aging is working to advance legislation that funds the Elder Justice Act and elder abuse protections of the Older Americans Act. While this is wonderful, you must still be vigilant, proactive, and take precautions.

Know what to look for.

5 types of elder abuse include:

  1. Physical
  2. Sexual
  3. Emotional
  4. Confinement or passive neglect
  5. Financial exploitation

The 10 Signs of Elder Abuse:

  1. Missing daily living aids such as glasses or walkers
  2. Unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, or sores
  3. Dehydration and expedited weight loss
  4. Unsanitary conditions
  5. Lack of medical attention, including medication
  6. Increased fear, anxiety, and depression
  7. Isolation from family and friends
  8. Withdrawal
  9. Unpaid bills
  10. Sudden changes in spending habits

Equally alarming to the above are the lack of reports of elder abuse. It’s thought that only 1 in 24 cases are reported to the authorities. Furthermore, those abused have an increased risk of death – up to 300%, compared to those who have not endured abuse.

5 ways to prevent elder abuse:

  1. Report it. The adage, “If you see something, say something”, applies here. If you are a victim of elder abuse or suspect someone you know is a victim, immediately call 911. Law enforcement and other agencies such as The Adult Protective Services office are here to protect you against any threat.
  2. Get educated. The more you know, the better. This isn’t a fun topic and we certainly don’t want to scare anyone. However, elder abuse is real, so we want to make sure you have the resources you need.
  3. Hire an at-home caregiver you trust. We’ve talked about how hiring an in-home care service can end peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones. Our caregivers and private duty nurses go through extensive background checks, training and are naturally compassionate. So they will be that second pair of eyes for you, advocate for you, and help you feel safe.
  4. Plan for your future. Having a power of attorney and living will in place sets clear expectations for everyone, which in many cases can alleviate tensions that may lead to elder abuse or neglect.
  5. Stay active with your friends, family, and community. When we do this, we have others looking out for us who will notice any changes in our habits or patterns.

We need to do better. For ourselves and each other. Keep up your awareness. Don’t be afraid to speak out. And as always, we are here for any questions you may have. Call us anytime.

Be well!

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