Ten Tips to Protect the Seniors You Love From Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can happen to anyone at any time. Older Americans are susceptible not only to scams but also becoming victims of abuse. Studies report that one in ten seniors will be abused during their lifetime. Further, it is reported that the majority of this abuse with originate with someone the senior knows. This includes family members and personal caregivers.


As with any type of abuse, the key is to be proactive. If you learn as much as you can about this epidemic you may be able to take preventative steps that will stop a predator from targeting a loved one. With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day taking place this month, let us share ten tips for identifying and preventing elder abuse with you.


1. Verify that estate planning documents are current and reflect your loved ones wishes. Nothing is worse than for a crisis to occur and your loved one not have the planning he or she needs. Be proactive and do not wait to give legal authority to someone to make decisions until a crisis.


2. Ensure that there is not just one person with legal authority. In estate planning documents the senior can name more than one decision maker. Often, with the help of your estate planning attorney, you can set up a line of succession so that if the first person selected to make decisions for you is unavailable, the second person is able to act.


3. Make sure the people that will be providing assistance to the senior know what they need to do. In a time of crisis, you do not want someone to first learn of his or her responsibilities. It is critical to talk to decision-makers early and let them know their responsibilities early on. This can also ensure that the person selected is able to assume this important responsibility.  If he or she is not, it gives the senior time to find a new person before a crisis.


4. Establish a pattern for communication. Predators often target seniors who they believe do not have a support network. They are specifically looking for seniors who may be isolated and do not have anyone to rely on. Take steps to avoid isolation.  Establish a check-in call time for you and your senior loved ones so that you are able to stay abreast of what is going on on a daily basis.


5. Introduce the seniors in your life to technology. Chat messaging, video calls, and text messaging, are all relatively easy ways to stay connected together. Although it may take some time to help your senior loved ones learn how to use this technology, the benefits are worth the time. There is so much you can learn from a video, when you’re looking at the seniors face-to-face, instead of a call.


6. Do not wait to create a support team. All of us need a support team, and seniors are no exception. Unfortunately, as a senior ages he or she may lose friends through moving away, health issues, or even death. Help your senior loved ones create a supportive local community who they can turn to in the event of a crisis.


7. Ask the tough questions. Seniors can be victims of physical, emotional, and even sexual abuse. Ask about bruises, cuts, fractures, or any other signs that a senior may be harmed. Do not accept an unclear answer. If you are closeby and suspect something is amiss, do not wait to ask to see underneath your loved ones clothing as many abuses will harm their victim in a place that is not easily visible.


8. Do not trust anyone. Although it may sound like a harsh statement, nothing can be more true. Ask questions about those the senior frequently interacts acts with. Do not wait to ask the tough questions to make sure your senior loved one is protected.


9. Do your research. If your loved one is receiving care at home from a provider or has moved into a long-term care facility, find out more about the company. Ask questions, get to know the staff, and frequently visit unexpectedly. Ask to see annual reports that demonstrate compliance with state and local health codes. Further, get to know the hospitalists and specialists treating the senior.


10. Ask how you can help. Although it may seem like a simple question, always ask your senior love one what you can do to help. The simple question may open up a world of information and insight for you what is actually going on.


These are just a few of the tips to get you started on helping the seniors in your life prevent elder abuse. We know just how difficult this topic of conversation is. Do not wait to ask us your questions and let us help you with this or any other elder law planning issue.

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