Did you know that research tells us today one in ten seniors has suffered some form of elder abuse? This is a devastating crime perpetrated against Older Americans that, unfortunately, does not receive the attention it should. It is one of the most underreported crimes in America today. All too often, the reason for the lack of reporting abuse is because in over sixty percent of the documented cases, the assailant is a family member.
Elder abuse is not limited in scope to America. It is an epidemic that impacts seniors across the world.
This June, around the world, we celebrate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day as a global community.
This is a month long celebration with a specific outreach, education, and focus centering around June 15th.
As a local community here in Tallahassee, what can we do to protect aging loved ones? For many of us our parents and grandparents live alone or, based on their care needs, live in either assisted living or skilled nursing facilities. Knowing that we cannot be with them twenty-four hours a day, what can we do to ensure they are best protected against abuse?
Let us share a few ways you can work with your aging loved ones to help prevent elder abuse.
- Stay Connected. When we stay in frequent communication with our aging loved ones, it may help them to tell us when something is amiss. Unfortunately, as we age, we may lose valuable insight and become more trusting. As much as you can, listen to what your parents or grandparents tell you about who they meet during the week, different experiences they have, and where they go. If they are no longer able to live independently, establish a relationship with the facility so that they know who you are and that you are involved in addition to talking as often as possible to your loved ones.
- Do Not Talk to Strangers. Remind them of what they taught you as a child. Although not everyone or every interaction is suspect, your aging loved ones may not be able to easily discern what is a scam or could cause them potential harm. Ask them to let you know before they share confidential information with others and ask them if you may meet their friends, especially the new ones. Remind them that if someone they do not know asks them for bank account information or for a loan, it may be a scam.
- Watch for Signs. Elder abuse comes in many forms. From financial to physical to sexual, there are numerous types of abuse. While some could be easy to spot such as a bruise on the face, many are not. Try to have as open a conversation with your aging loved one as possible and remind them that they may share anything with you. Watch not only for signs of abuse but for withdrawal from conversation topics, which may also signal abuse has taken place.
In Florida, anyone at any time can report suspected elder abuse.
It is important for you and your aging loved ones to know that you do not have to prove abuse to report it. To learn how to report in Florida, or to take the step to report suspected abuse, you may click this link. Further, if you believe your loved one has been harmed by an abuser or in a skilled nursing facility, do not wait to contact us. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can schedule a free case evaluation for you.