Elder abuse consists of any action or inaction that intentionally harms an elderly person. These individuals may experience abandonment, neglect and self-neglect as well as physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and financial abuse.
Have you ever visited an elderly loved one and witnessed actions that could be abused? These are things you should do if you suspect your elders are being abused.
Physical abuse is often visible through bruises, weight loss and other injuries, while emotional abuse involves how administrators speak with their patients. Although most physical and emotional abuse is observable, financial abuse is a bit more nuanced. For example, financial abuse may appear as missing items, changes in bank statement addresses, unpaid bills, unlikely withdrawals and power of attorney changes.
Pursue open communication
Your loved ones may be afraid or ashamed to tell you that they are experiencing abuse. However, you should continue to speak with them about it. Use gentle communication and make sure they feel comfortable with you. Much of their trust in you may depend on how often they see or speak with you, so keep your contact regular. This also gives you the opportunity to increase your observations.
If your loved ones tell you they are being abused take it seriously. Ask questions and get clarification about what is happening, when and how often.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, contact Adult Protective Services or the police immediately. The nursing home may also have an ombudsman you can speak with. The National Center on Elder Abuse also has resources to help.
If you witness any form of abuse, document it. Collect bank statements, take photos and record statements from your loved ones. Then, consider removing them from their nursing homes.