Did you know that one in every ten Americans that are 60 or older, has gone through some form of elder abuse? Roughly, at least five million seniors are abused each year. Unfortunately, only 24 of those five million cases are reported. Physical and/or emotional abuse can be a destructive force in the lives of our loved ones. Recognizing elder abuse can be difficult, but it is an important step in helping those who are affected. Keep reading to learn how to recognize the abused, potential abusive situations, and what to do about it.
Recognize the Signs
If you know a senior living in Florida, or anywhere alone, paying close attention can be a crucial step in recognizing any signs of mistreatment. Some of these signs include:
- Poor hygiene
- Symptoms that include anxiety, constant confusion, or even depression
- Sudden changes in mood or behavior
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Bruises or other injuries, some of which may go unexplained
- Changes in financial patterns such as unexplained transactions or losing money
If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, it’s important to take action right away. Oftentimes if these things are happening to one person, they may also be happening to others so it’s important to alert the proper authorities to ensure safety and to put a stop to any mistreatment.
How to Proceed
The first step is to talk to the person you’re concerned about. Try to find out what’s going on and whether they’re being hurt in any way. If they’re reluctant to talk, there are other steps you can take. You can contact their doctor or another qualified health professional, or you can call an elder abuse hotline in your area.
There are many resources available to help seniors who are being abused. These include support groups, counseling, and legal services. Elder abuse is a serious problem, but it can be prevented or caught early. Remember that any form of abuse can be dangerous, especially for seniors so calling 911 if you have strong concerns is always an option.
For caregiving staff, having clear policies and procedures for providing high-quality care will allow seniors to feel safer, and properly cared for.
What Are Risk Factors of Those That Abuse?
For a bystander, an employer, or a co-worker, knowing the risk factors involved with elder abuse from the standpoint of the abuser can often help. It might not seem like it but having insight into a person, their background, or their current state could help you to spot signs of wrongdoings. Risk factors could include:
- Inability to properly cope
- High levels of stress
- Socially isolated
- Past experiences with traumatic events including abuse
- Current issues with physical or mental health
- Disruptive behavior
- Poor training for their responsibilities as a caregiver
For employers, to help make sure that your staff doesn’t cause intentional, or unintentional harm to seniors, make sure that they are receiving and completing all of their training. Have new staff shadow more seasoned staff and make sure they are fully aware of the facility’s policies. You can also stress the importance of ensuring safety and proper treatment while stressing the consequences of any form of abuse.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a serious problem, and it’s, unfortunately, something that often goes ignored, or hidden. However, there are things you can do to help prevent it. If you have an elderly loved one, make sure to check in on them regularly.
This can help you spot any changes in their mood or behavior that might indicate abuse. It’s also important to stay involved in their lives and be aware of what’s going on with them. If you want additional ways to help a senior living in Florida, or anywhere for that matter try:
- Identifying and protecting seniors from high-risk caregivers
- Keep seniors active
- Help them to remain engaged with their community
- Assist them in making friends or connections nearby
- Identify helpful resources early on
- If you live out of town, find someone that could check in on them periodically that isn’t their caregiver
- Help them to monitor their finances and pay attention to any account activity on the senior’s behalf if you have permission to do so
You can also help by supporting organizations that work to prevent elder abuse. These organizations can provide information and resources to help keep seniors safe. By working together, we can make a difference in the lives of seniors not only in Florida but everywhere.
Every year, thousands of seniors are abused, neglected, and exploited. This abuse can take many different forms, from physical violence to financial manipulation. Due to the importance of recognizing the warning signs, as one of the best magazines for seniors, promoting education on this information was vital.
Keep in mind that you don’t only have to stay vigilant when people you know are involved. Try to be observant everywhere that you go and pay attention to seniors and those that care for them. If you are a senior yourself that may have elderly parents, or friends that have caretakers, pay attention to them.
Always have conversations with your loved ones if they will be staying in an assisted living facility or if they have a caregiver that goes into their home. Explain to them that those closest to them need and want to know how they are treated at all times. Elder abuse can be prevented with close observation. involvement, and knowing what to look for.