Elder abuse is a widespread problem. According to the CDC, approximately 10 percent of people age 60 and older experience abuse, neglect or exploitation. If you have an elderly parent, you may have concerns about his or her safety and overall wellbeing. Whether your parent lives at home, in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, he or she may be at risk of abuse.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways you can prevent and combat elder abuse. Here is how to ensure your loved one is safe.
Know the warning signs
The first step to preventing elder abuse is recognizing the signs. There are different indicators for each type of abuse:
- Physical abuse: Unexplained injuries, broken eyeglasses and signs of restraint.
- Emotional abuse: Dementia and a caregiver who is belittling, threatening or controlling.
- Financial exploitation: Sudden changes in finances, missing cash or belongings, and significant withdrawals from bank accounts.
- Neglect: Sudden weight loss, untreated medical problems, unsuitable clothing and unsanitary living conditions.
If you notice any of these signs, make sure you report it right away.
Call and visit regularly
Make an effort to stay in consistent contact with your parent. Communicate multiple times a week. In-person visits and phone conversations will help you notice any red flags of abuse. Plus, consistent contact helps your parent know you are a trustworthy confidant.
Ask for access to financial statements
If you suspect a caregiver is financially exploiting your parent, you may want to ask him or her for some financial information. You do not necessarily need to obtain access to accounts. Simply ask your parent if you can see credit card or bank account statements so you can look for unusual transactions.
Often, an abusive caregiver will neglect to provide the elder with the proper medications. Check to see if your parent is taking the correct amount. If there are significantly more or fewer pills than there should be, there may be neglect or abuse occurring.