Your older loved ones have supported you throughout your life. As they age, you can repay the favor by helping care for them. Older adults frequently become more vulnerable to abuse as they lose mobility and mental clarity. One of the most valuable things you can do for your family as they enter their golden years is to protect them from various types of elder abuse.
Protecting loved ones from elder abuse is both easier and harder than you may expect. Below, you’ll learn the biggest risks you family member may face from elder abuse and the five most important things you can do to keep them safe.
The Risks of Elder Abuse
Like any abusive behavior, elder abuse carries many risks for its victims. If your family member is being abused, they may suffer from:
- Lower quality of life
- Sexual assault
- Permanent injuries
- Financial problems
- Social isolation
They don’t deserve to face any of these problems, but they may not have an alternative unless someone is willing to advocate for them.
Even if you think your loved one is safe, you should still keep a close eye on them. Some of the most dangerous examples of elder abuse are found in situations where the victim’s family thought they were being cared for. Caretakers, including nursing home staff, in-home helpers, and even other family members, can take advantage of seniors’ reduced abilities. If your loved one doesn’t understand what’s going on or doesn’t feel safe asking for help, they will remain trapped in this situation until someone else takes action.
Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe from Elder Abuse
Protecting your loved ones is simple, but it may not be easy. You need to make their health and safety your priority to ensure they aren’t being harmed by the people who are supposed to care for them. Here are five strategies for keeping your older family members safe from abusive caretakers.
Stay In Touch
The best way you can guard your family member from abuse is by talking to or visiting them regularly. These interactions give them the opportunity to let you know if they’re being abused. They may not feel comfortable sending you a message, but a phone call or in-person conversation can give them the security they need to let you know what’s happening.
Regular contact also helps you spot abuse even if your loved one doesn’t realize what’s going on. You can’t spot signs of abuse if you never see the person. Regular visits and conversations can help you identify warning signs like sudden injuries, changes in behavior, or symptoms of neglect.
For example, if your loved one’s personality suddenly changes to become more fearful or nervous, that may be a sign something is going wrong in their lives. Similarly, if they constantly have bruises or they complain their caretaker forgets to give them medications or help with hygiene, you can investigate further to find out if they’re being neglected or abused.
Your visits can also act as a deterrent against abuse. Most abusers prefer victims without anyone who can advocate for them. If a potentially abusive caretaker sees that you frequently talk to your loved one, they may be less likely to harm them for fear that they’ll get caught.
Build Their Social Networks
Another way to prevent or end abuse is by helping your loved one build a strong social network. As people get older and lose mobility, it’s easy for them to become isolated. If you help them build friendships and relationships in their community, they will have more people who can look out for them and let you know if something seems wrong.
There are many ways you can build this community for them, such as:
- Talking to other relatives and reminding them to visit
- Signing your family member up for visits from community volunteers
- Helping your loved one participate in social hobbies like quilting circles, choirs, or book clubs
All of these activities will help them be more social and make it harder for abusers to take advantage of them unnoticed.
Support Their Health
As your loved ones get older, you can potentials help them avoid abusive situations by encouraging them to remain healthy and independent. Seniors who are mobile and able to take care of themselves are less likely to need caretakers who could potentially harm them They are also better able to respond if they do wind up in an abusive situation.
You can support your family member’s health by:
- Reminding them to get regular medical care
- Encouraging them to exercise and eat healthy
- Helping them remember to take any necessary medications
If your loved one already needs a little (or a lot) of help from a caretaker or nursing home, you can still prevent abuse by checking up on their helpers. Consider looking for nurses or caretakers in abuse registries or through your circuit court records. If you discover issues like previous abuse, neglect, violence, or drug charges, your loved one may be at risk in that person’s care.
If you do spot these issues, you can report the abuser, request a new caretaker or transfer your loved one to a different facility. It’s worth the effort to make sure they aren’t harmed in their golden years.
Don’t Stand for Abusive Caretakers
If you find out your loved one has been abused, you can and should take legal action on their behalf. Elder abuse by a medical caretaker is a serious problem. You may have grounds to sue the caretaker and their facility for damages according to the harm your loved one suffered.
If you want to learn more about holding abusive caretakers and nursing homes accountable for their actions, you can get in contact with the expert elder abuse lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael Oran, A.P.C. You can call our Los Angeles office at 213-624-1177 or message us online to discuss your situation. Don’t let your loved one suffer in silence; stand up against elder abuse today.