Conservative estimates tell us that at least one in ten elderly individuals will be the victim of some form of elder abuse each year. Making matters worse is the belief that as few as one in 44 instances of financial abuse of the elderly and only one in 20 acts of physical abuse of the elderly are reported. For anyone who has an elderly loved one who is dependent on a caregiver, or the care received at a long-term care facility, those statistics are frightening. To help empower you, the elder law attorneys at Wilcox Attorneys, PA discuss what you can do to prevent elder abuse.
Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Elder Abuse
It’s evident that prevention is the best way to prevent discovering that a loved one has fallen victim to elder abuse. With this goal in mind, consider these steps to help safeguard your loved one and avert the risk of elder abuse:
- Open a line of communication: Initiate an honest conversation with your elderly loved one about the topic of elder abuse. Emphasize that victims should never feel ashamed or frightened to report abuse and encourage them to confide in you if they feel uncomfortable with a caregiver.
- Trust but verify. Sadly, two out of every three perpetrators of elder abuse are a family member of the victim, with an adult child or the spouse of an adult child being the most likely perpetrator. If a family member is providing care for your loved one, trust but verify. Establish a system of checks and balances among family members that allows you to maintain vigilance and catch potential abuse or neglect before it happens.
- Do your research before choosing a facility: If you are considering long-term care facility for your loved one, do your research before selecting one. While many facilities provide compassionate care, others may overlook abuse. Take the time to carefully evaluate potential options, including an in-person visit before your loved one moves in and surprise visits while your loved one is a resident.
- Screen caregivers: Don’t solely rely on services or companies to screen home health workers. Conduct your own background checks before permitting access to your loved one. Also use the same system of checks and balances suggested for family caregivers, including pop-up visits when the caregiver is not expecting someone to show up.
- Make your presence known: Whether your loved one is in a care facility or receiving home care, make unannounced visits as often as possible. Your presence alone can act as a deterrent against potential predators. Get the whole family involved and make a point of showing up at all hours of the day and night and on different days each week.
- Monitor finances: Even if your loved one is still capable of managing their finances, take an active role in monitoring his/her money, assets, and bills. You might uncover issues that your loved one may miss. Moreover, letting a potential abuser know that someone is paying attention may make him/her think twice about exploiting your elderly loved one.
Do You Need Help Preventing Elder Abuse?
For additional information, please sign up for one of our FREE estate planning webinars. If you need more specific advice or guidance about how to prevent elder abuse, contact the experienced Washington County, Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, and Northwest Arkansas elder law attorneys at Wilcox Attorneys, PA by calling 479-443-0062 to schedule your appointment today.