Unfortunately, elder abuse is more common than you may think, with the American Psychological Association estimating that approximately two million seniors are victimized annually.
The good news is that you can help to protect your elderly loved ones by learning more about elder abuse. One thing that is important to remember is that elder abuse does not only occur at nursing homes. Seniors are also sometimes abused by caregivers while living in their own homes.
Following are a few ways that you can help reduce the chances of elder abuse from happening to your loved ones.
Keep in Touch – By staying in frequent contact with your elderly loved one, you and other family members will be able to notice signs of potential abuse, such as unexplained injuries, changes in behavior or poor hygiene.
Vet the Caregivers – Before choosing a facility for elder care, do thorough research and visit the facility. Do they have enough caregivers on staff (understaffing can result in poor care)? Is the facility clean and well kept? Do they have a strong reputation or have there been instances of elder abuse at the facility in the past?
Beware of Live-in Caregivers – Never let your elderly loved one live with anyone who you don’t know well or who cannot provide good references. Unfortunately, there are people out there who prey on the elderly and can be violent, abusive or looking to steal your loved one’s money or valuables.
Encourage an Active Lifestyle – Staying active can actually prolong your loved one’s life and make them less vulnerable to elder abuse. Take them on outings whenever possible and encourage them to attend community activities, religious services or other activities that they enjoy.
Get Help if You Suspect Elder Abuse
If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being abused, notify the police or adult protective services immediately.