It breaks our hearts to hear stories from the news of vulnerable seniors who have suffered mistreatment and abuse, and perhaps it appears as though it’s something which will happen to “someone else” – certainly not to our own senior loved ones. Nevertheless, approximately 5 million seniors in the U.S. are subjected to some form of elder abuse each year – and, these incidents frequently go unreported, according to The Elder Justice Roadmap report released by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The report also exposes that, tragically, senior abuse most often occurs at the hands of a family member or close friend – a person the older person knows and trusts. Whether the motivation is financial gain, stress, or another cause, it is very important for every one of us to be able to identify the warning signs of elder abuse and to take steps to prevent it.
Warning Signs of Senior Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse has developed a fact sheet to shed light on the signs of abuse or neglect in older adults. Abuse may be financial, emotional or physical. Be on the lookout for any of the following in your older loved ones, and report any suspected abuse as soon as possible to your local Adult Protective Services agency. Contact information is provided by state on the National Adult Protective Services Association website.
- Unmet hygiene, nutritional, or hydration needs
- Untreated health conditions
- Dangerous or unhealthy living conditions
- Unexplained changes in behavior
- Isolation and/or lack of supervision by primary caregiver
- Bruises, fractures, cuts, burns, etc. without a sufficient explanation
- Combative, demeaning, or controlling behavior displayed by primary caregiver
Senior Abuse Prevention
The easiest way to help seniors stay safe from abuse is by remaining aware, alert, and attentive. Check in with senior loved ones regularly, and have a system of support in place to make sure seniors have ample opportunities for socialization and interesting activities, in order to prevent isolation – one of the key factors that enhances an older adult’s danger for abuse or neglect.
You can also proactively address the inherent reasons for senior abuse. For instance, recognize if a family caregiver is experiencing undue stress, and come up with an alternate care plan for your senior loved one; and ensure there’s no monetary motivation in a family member’s wish to act as caregiver. And, provide the older person with the knowledge and insight essential to spot warnings signs of senior abuse, and encourage her or him to share with you immediately about any cause for concern.
One of the best methods to ensure a senior loved one remains safe from senior abuse is by working with Home With You Senior Care. All of our caregivers are subjected to strict criminal history checks and are provided with the oversight that makes sure your loved one is safe from abuse. Contact us at 410-756-0959 to learn more about our top-rated Columbia senior care and the areas we serve.