Elder abuse is a serious problem. Unfortunately, those who are elderly–especially those whose mental faculties are weakened due to conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia–can be susceptible to people taking advantage of them. Use the below guidelines to step in and take control when you suspect that elder abuse might be happening to someone you know.
- Maintain contact. Chat with your older friends, neighbors, and relatives. By maintaining communication with them, you make them less susceptible to isolation, which can help decrease the risk of mistreatment. Plus, then these folks will have the opportunity to talk to you and make you aware of any problems or issues they may be experiencing.
- Be observant. When you visit or talk to your elderly loved ones, be aware of their moods. Do they seem nervous, fearful, anxious, sad, or withdrawn–especially around certain people–and these moods are atypical behaviors for them? If you notice these personality changes, talk to them about it–sincerely ask if everything is OK. Give them the chance to open up to you.
- Promote independence. Those who are the most independent can be the least susceptible to elder abuse. Help your elderly loved one find local programs and support systems such as Meals on Wheels. These trusted programs can help elders to maintain their independence, health, and well-being.
- Report suspected mistreatment. If you suspect that elder abuse is happening to someone you know, report it to your local adult protective services agency or to law enforcement officials. Keep an eye on the situation–if it was investigated but nothing was done to help, and you feel the situation is worsening and/or not improving, keep speaking out until you see the situation change in a positive way.
- Volunteer. If you are passionate about making sure elderly people are being properly cared for, find local opportunities that provide support and assistance to seniors, and get involved.
Find more resources about eldercare at www.eldercare.gov.