Senior abuse is so widespread because those affected are often voiceless. One of the consequences of this dynamic is that solving the problem usually requires the action of outsiders. While educating elderly themselves is helpful, doing that alone will not end the problem. All of us need to come together, commit to be vigilant about the safety and well being of seniors in our lives, and speak up when we have suspicions.
Fortunately, there are some great advocacy groups and public entities leading large-scale programs aimed at organizing around this problem and working to end it. For example, the U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA) recently published information on the “Year of Elder Abuse Prevention.” The project includes dissemination of many different resources all seeking to educate community members about the facets of the abuse, the risk factors, prevention tips, and the best ways to report problems once they are identified.
There are many different ways to to help, and we hope you use the start of a new year to learn more about the problem and commit to ending it.
Be Vigilant About Elder Abuse
One of the simplest ways to start is by signing a pledge card–available at the project website–to promise to do something extra to prevent neglect or exploitation of a senior in the coming year. In addition, you should download many of the free resources available on the page to remind yourself of the ways to act and improve seniors. Some of those simple action steps include:
–Increase the frequency of calls or visits to senior loved ones. Obviously the longer the gap between check-ups, the higher the risk that a problem can go undetected.
–Ask group leaders (i.e. faith based communities) to share information with their organization about the dangers of elder abuse. While those of us steeped in this field talk about the problem all the time, many people never hear about it. Lack of awareness is still a problem and the more time spent spreading even basic information about the risk, the better.
–Ensure tellers at your local bank are trained in identifying possible suspicions activities with elderly customers. There has been great success stories in recent years related to bank tellers and others connected to seniors finances identifying possible exploitation and stopping it in its tracks. When these individuals ask a few more questions and try to check that withdrawals and other transactions are legitimate, much work can be done to stop some theft in its tracks.
–It is also helpful to provide support, companionship, and projects for seniors. For example, if a senior loved one has a special skill, ask him or her to share that skill with you or your children. So much abuse and exploitation is caused by isolation, and ensuring that seniors are engaged in our community is one general way to limit the problem. This sort of thing can go hand-in-hand with nursing home trips and other visits. Sharing a cup of coffee, a conversation, and some laughs can go a long way.
We hope everyone is able to do at least one thing this year–big or small–to improve the life of an elderly community members. And if at any time you suspect that a senior was harmed as a result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, please contact our senior abuse lawyers to see how we can help.
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