Signs of Elder Abuse--How to Protect Your Loved Ones
If you are one of the millions of Americans who has an elderly family member in the care
of someone outside the family, you likely worry about the quality of their care on a
regular basis. Although accurate statistics are difficult to come by because experts believe
that a significant percentage of actual abuse and neglect of the elderly goes unreported,
estimates are that over two million elderly Americans are abused or neglected every year
by caregivers. For those of us who are simply unable to care for an elderly relative and
must entrust his or her care to someone else, there are some things that you can watch for
that can indicate your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect.
Personality Changes--Even when a victim keeps quiet about abuse or neglect,
there are typically signs anyway. A change in mood or personality is one of the
most common signs. This could mean increased agitation or anger or it may
manifest in a withdrawal from social engagements or depression. The important
thing to look for is any noticeable and prolonged change in mood.
Broken Bones, Bruises, and Marks: This one can be tricky because the elderly are
more prone to falls and injuries; however, don’t let that fool you. Insist on an
explanation for any “accident.” Repeated accidents or injuries that seem out of
proportion to the alleged accident should be call for further investigation.
Unpaid Bills: Those who take advantage of the elderly often count on the fact that
children or other relatives are hesitant to interfere with their loved one’s finances.
For the elderly, the ability to control their finances is often a symbol of
independence and family members frequently don’t want to rock the boat. If,
however, it suddenly appears as though bills are not being paid, or money is
unaccounted for, it is time to interfere. Petition the court for the right to do so if
Worsening Health: This one is very hard to recognize since the natural aging
process will eventually cause your family member’s health to deteriorate. If his or
her health seems to take a turn for the worse without any logical explanation,
however, you may want to probe a bit further.
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