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3 tips for approaching a conversation about elder abuse

Many people know the signs of abuse and how to address them once they're confirmed, but there may be a larger issue: Addressing abuse with your loved ones. As someone who cares about your elderly parents, siblings or other loved ones, you need to get confirmation of abuse before you can do anything else.

Approaching this kind of topic isn't always easy. Your loved one may fear repercussions or not have a clear memory about what happened. There are a few good ways to gather information and to talk to your loved one without rocking the boat, though. Here are three tips:

Approach the topic delicately

You may not want to start talking to your elderly parent or family member about abuse by accusing caretakers or demanding to know what happened. Instead, it's better to approach this sensitive situation kindly and calmly. If your parent fell, for instance, you should ask about what happened. If something doesn't add up with their story, then you may want to gently pry by asking additional questions like, "who was with you when this happened? Has this happened before?"

Remember that aging minds aren't always reliable

You should remember that an aging family member may struggle with memory, and that's okay. If he or she is getting hurt often or shows signs of changes in personality, it's okay to sit down and try to discuss if anything is wrong. If your loved one is truly unable to remember anything or seems incoherent, it may be time to place recording equipment in the room or to take your concerns to the nursing home director.

Listen to roommates and caregivers

If a well-meaning caregiver apologizes for a coworker or a roommate of your parent speaks out about abuse in the facility, listen. It's those kinds of hints that may be all you have to go on at the beginning of a case.

These are a few tips for finding out about elder abuse involving your loved one. Talking about this situation with a loved one might be hard, but by listening to what's happening around them and addressing it gently, it's possible.

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