Elder abuse is disturbingly prevalent in the United States. According to the CDC, one out of every 10 people age 60 or older will experience some type of elder abuse – and this statistic is likely an underestimate because victims are often unable or afraid to report it.
Elder abuse can take a plethora of different forms – from physical or verbal abuse to financial exploitation or neglect. If you have a vulnerable senior you wish to protect, here are four tips that will help prevent opportunities for elder abuse:
1. Keep your elders close
If possible, choose a home for your loved one that will allow them to remain close to you or other relatives. By keeping an elder nearby, they’ll be able to come to you for help easily should they need it. Keeping them close also allows you or friends and family to visit often and keep an eye out for any red flags.
2. Stay in touch often
When you are regularly immersed in your elder loved one’s daily activities and hobbies, it’ll be easier to pick up on any signals that something is wrong. Staying in constant communication and maintaining a close relationship can also help your elder feel comfortable asking for help should they experience any abuse.
3. Encourage them to socialize
Isolation and loneliness aren’t just harmful to a person’s mental health, but they also can put a senior at a higher risk of becoming a target of abuse. Encourage your older loved one to stay active in their community and social circles for their safety and general well-being.
4. Be selective with caregivers
When choosing a caregiver for your elder loved one, be sure to look for a trusted individual who can provide them with the care and attention they require. This could be a family member, close friend, or someone you have thoroughly screened. Pay close attention to how the caretaker interacts with the elder and keep close tabs on any changes in mood, appearance or finances, as these may be signs of abuse.
It’s essential for families who place an elder in a long-term care facility to remain active participants in their loved one’s lives. Doing so will allow you to recognize potential warnings signs better and prevent abuse before it can start.