It breaks our hearts to listen to stories from the news of vulnerable seniors who have suffered mistreatment and abuse, and perhaps it may seem as though it’s something that will happen to “someone else” – definitely never to our own loved ones. However, up to five million seniors in the United States are the subject of some sort of senior abuse each and every year – and, these incidents often 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 clearly shows that, tragically, elder abuse most often takes place at the hands of someone in the family or a close friend – someone the older person knows and trusts. Whether or not the motive is monetary gain, stress, or another cause, it is very important for all of us to acknowledge the warning signs of senior citizen abuse and to take steps to prevent it.
Elder Abuse Warning Signs
The National Center on Elder Abuse has put together a fact sheet to shed light on the signs of abuse or neglect in older adults. Abuse may be financial, emotional or physical. Look out for any of the following in your senior loved ones, and document any suspected abuse without delay 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 concerns
- Hazardous or unhealthy living conditions
- Unexplained changes in behavior
- Isolation and/or lack of supervision by primary caregiver
- Bruises, fractures, cuts, burns, etc. without a satisfactory explanation
- Combative, demeaning, or controlling behavior exhibited by primary caregiver
Elder Abuse Prevention
The best way to help older adults remain safe from any abuse is by remaining aware, alert, and attentive. Check in with elderly loved ones often, and have a community of support in place to make sure seniors have ample opportunities for socialization and stimulating activities in order to avoid isolation – one of the key factors that boosts a senior’s risk for abuse or neglect.
You may also proactively address the underlying causes of senior citizen abuse. As an example, acknowledge if a family caregiver is experiencing undue stress, and come up with an alternative care plan for the senior; and make sure there is no financial motivation in a family member’s wish to function as caregiver. Also, supply the older person with the knowledge and insight necessary to identify possible abuse, and encourage him or her to tell you as soon as possible about any cause for worry.
One of the best methods to make certain a senior remains safe from elder abuse is by partnering with Hearts at Home In-Home Care. All of our caregivers are put through strict criminal background checks and are provided with the supervision that ensures senior loved ones are safe from abuse. To learn more about how our top-rated home care in Lenexa provides family members with peace of mind with alternatives to assisted living, reach out to us at 913-440-4209.