According to the American Psychological Association (APA), roughly two million elderly Americans each year file reports because someone is mistreating them. But for every documented case of elder abuse, five more go unreported. Forms of elder abuse include physical, sexual, financial and emotional, and oftentimes it’s a private caregiver or family member who’s involved. If you’re currently looking after an aging in place elderly parent, here are several effective ways to help protect them from being abused.
The 7 Types of Elder Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) identifies seven categories of elder abuse:
- Physical. The use of physical force that causes bodily harm, physical pain or ongoing impairment.
- Neglect. Failing or refusing to provide an elderly person with the care that’s needed so that they can live comfortably.
- Sexual. Having non-consensual sex with a senior.
- Emotional. Inflicting psychological pain, distress or anguish by verbal or non-verbal means upon an elderly individual.
- Financial. Improperly or illegally using an elder’s property or assets.
- Abandonment. This describes someone who is supposed to be caring for a senior, including a legal custodian, who then deserts them.
- Self-neglect. When a senior engages in behaviors that endanger their personal health or safety, either intentionally or unintentionally, it’s considered self-neglect.
Signs of elder abuse vary, so for more details visit the NCEA’s website. Fear and intimidation oftentimes keep a senior from telling their loved ones that they are being mistreated. But when it happens, elder abuse can quickly place the victim’s health and wellbeing at risk.
Keeping Your Parent Safe
Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to help protect your mom or dad from elder abuse, including:
- Encourage activity. Regular exercise and activity will keep their body stronger which reduces the likelihood for abuse.
- Keep them socially engaged. Social isolation can lead to depression, loneliness and sadness that leaves a senior open to abuse or neglect. If your loved one has become socially isolated, encourage them to stay engaged with others through church or community programs.
- Stay in touch. When mom or dad need some daily living assistance, try to care for them yourself for as long as possible. But once you start feeling fatigued, a trustworthy caregiver will need to step in. Stay in touch with your parent even if you live far away.
- Monitor houseguests. Don’t let anyone live with your senior who has a history of violent or abusive behavior.
- Manage their money. Ask mom or dad to name you as custodian on their bank accounts, and even offer to manage their monthly bills for them. That way you will be able to watch their accounts for signs of unusual activities. Financial fraudsters, including family members, love to target seniors.
- Watch for physical or behavioral changes. Be constantly aware of any changes to your parent’s appearance or demeaner that might indicate abuse.
- Warn them about solicitors. Warn your parent about speaking to solicitors, including “long lost” family members who are offering to move in and take care of them. Instead, politely ask them to notify you when any suspicious parties contact them via email, social media, door-to-door solicitations or by phone.
- Contact the authorities. If your loved one is showing signs of elder abuse, share your concerns with a trusted family member, bank manager, attorney, clergy member, or law enforcement official. If your “gut” is telling you there’s a problem, there probably is!
When your parent needs daily living assistance and you’re not available, another option you have is to find them a pre-screened professional caregiver from a licensed home care agency.
We Help Keep Aging in Place Seniors Safe & Comfortable
Protecting an aging in place parent against elder abuse can be difficult when you are busy or live far away. When you need a hand, contact LightSpring Home Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, we carefully screen all our caregivers beforehand so they can serve as another layer of security in your loved one’s home. Our goal at LightSpring Home Care is keeping aging in place seniors safe and comfortable so they can enjoy their freedom and independence, and our Ardmore home care does just that for the communities we serve.
While in the home, our highly trained aides can also perform family trusted duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our in-home services can be individually combined into an affordable package that’ll restore your peace of mind! To learn more about LightSpring Home Care, or to schedule a FREE consultation for a senior now, please call or visit us online.