According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 10 people over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse. But only 1 in 24 of those people will report what happened to them to the authorities.
It is often up to the families of older adults to monitor the loved one’s well-being, and take action when abuse is suspected. At Palmer & Slay PLLC, we help families in the Brandon, Mississippi area who want to hold abusers accountable, and proactively protect their loved ones from abuse.
Knowing the early signs of abuse — whether it is physical, emotional, sexual, or financial — is a good first place to start if you want to prevent your loved one from being taken advantage of.
Physical abuse comes in many forms. Monitor your loved one for unexplained scrapes and bruises, but also check up on their general hygiene and well-being. Some specific things to look out for include:
- Dehydration – This is one of the earliest indicators of neglect and abuse. Experienced caregivers know how important hydration is to health, and take great care to ensure anyone under their care is getting enough liquid.
- Dental Problems – If your loved one’s teeth are not being taken care of, there is a good chance their health is being neglected in other ways.
- Missing Medication or Extra Medication – Unless your loved one’s doctor has changed his or her medication, the type and amount of medicine consumed each month should remain fairly consistent. An increase or decrease could indicate improper dosing. A dramatic increase in use may be a sign that caregivers are stealing your loved one’s medication.
If your loved one becomes withdrawn, depressed, or irrationally angry, it may be a sign that he or she is being abused. Fear or panic at the end of an otherwise normal visit with your loved one can also be a sign that they are being mistreated when you are not around.
Many older adults are embarrassed to admit that they are being sexually abused. If you are comfortable addressing this subject directly, do so. Otherwise, you may need to ask your loved one’s doctor to look for signs of abuse and test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during routine checkups.
Protecting older adults from financial abuse is often difficult because you and your loved ones might have very different spending habits and views on investing and gifting. Rather than trying to force your loved one to adopt your preferred financial habits, look for changes in their habits, which may indicate abuse:
- Deciding to completely redo their estate plan in favor of a person or organization they do not have a long-standing relationship with.
- Not paying the bills on time.
- Making extravagant gifts.
If you have power of attorney, or otherwise help them manage their finances, look for:
- The addition of additional authorized users on accounts.
- Fraudulent activity, which may indicate your loved one has been scammed or had his or her identity stolen.
Palmer & Slay: Protecting Your Loved Ones
Knowing the early signs of abuse can help you protect your loved ones from serious harm. So can working with the Palmer & Slay team to plan for their long-term care and end-of-life needs.
If you suspect your loved one in the Brandon, Mississippi area is being abused, or want to take steps to prevent them from being abused, please contact us to set up a meeting.