No one wants to hear that a loved one or friend who is an older adult has been the victim of elder abuse. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure their safety. Below are ten strategies you can start to take today that help.
Get educated: Many well-meaning people are surprised that it isn’t just limited to physical abuse and it doesn’t always leave bruises you can see. The abuse can be emotional or financial as well and that it happens in both small and dramatic ways.
Keep in touch: Calling and visiting your loved one frequently can help you identify if something is wrong. When you talk to them, ask them how they are and look for both verbal and nonverbal communication in their response.
Be sure that your loved one can easily reach out to you: If something is happening, your loved one should be encouraged to contact you right away. Be sure that they know how to reach you and can manage the technology to call or email.
Identify someone who can monitor their financial transactions: This will mean that someone who cares will know sooner–rather than later– if things go amiss.
Maintain good communication with caregivers: If an older adult in your life has caregivers, be sure to stay in touch with them. You’ll want them to communicate any challenges they’re having as soon as possible so that you can work as a team to address them.
Be sure that caregivers get a break: They need time to recharge and release any caregiving stress they have so that they can maintain as positive a relationship with your loved one as possible.
Ensure proper training: Caregiving is hard work and required knowledge on how to handle a range of situations including dementia care, personal care, and life enrichment. Training can help this to happen as smoothly as possible, reducing stress and the possibility of harm.
Develop a strong professional support network: Helping your loved one isn’t a one-person job. Be sure that there’s a team of doctors, social health experts, and mental health experts there to support your loved one.
Raise awareness of elder abuse in your community: Sometimes, the best defense against elder abuse is a good offense. Conduct educational outreach efforts at schools, places of work, senior centers, and other areas to help the community understand the issue.
Know what to do if something is wrong: If something isn’t right, know what to do and take quick action to help contain any injury. A good place to start is by contacting your local ombudsman’s office.