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Protecting Our Aging Loved Ones

Thankfully, Americans are living longer, fuller and more productive lives. As our population ages, however, there comes an increased dependence on caregivers, whether they are in an assisted living facility, residential care center or in our home. While the great majority of those providing a much-needed helping hand to the elderly are honest, trustworthy, skilled and caring, some use their position as a caregiver to take advantage of their weaker and more vulnerable charges.

Types of Abuse

Vulnerable or infirm senior citizens are subject to any number of abuses, ranging from physical assaults to mental intimidation and from theft to sexual abuse. The types of abuse, and the effect the abuse will have on the victim, vary widely. That is why it is particularly important that you, as loving family members and friends, stay on the lookout for potential warning signs. By remaining vigilant, you can prevent harm to your loved one and others who may be in the same situation.

Signs of Physical or Emotional Abuse and/or Neglect
  • Bruising
  • Broken bones
  • Malnourishment/dehydration
  • Scratches, blisters, burns or welts
  • Depression or anxiety on the part of the victim
  • Lack of hygiene (hair and body unwashed, teeth not brushed, clothes/bedding not regularly changed)
  • Pressure sores (a.k.a. “bed sores”)
  • Confinement, isolation or preventing loved ones from visiting
  • Verbal assaults
  • Sensing fear of particular caregivers
Signs of Financial/Fiduciary Abuse
  • Forged signatures
  • Unpaid bills (even when someone has been designated to make those payments)
  • Unauthorized or unusual bank account activity
  • Purchase of unneeded items
  • Sale of treasured items
Reporting Abuse: Your Next Steps

While some of these symptoms may not initially seem severe, they are all indicative of a larger pattern of abuse, and they should be reported to a Long-Term Care Ombudsman, law enforcement agency or the Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse Bureau (if the victim is in a long-term or residential care facility), family member (if the caregiver is providing in-home care) or local social services agency. It is better to be safe than sorry – if you have any suspicion that abuse is occurring, report it. If you fear that a friend or loved one is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to call 911.

In addition to alerting the proper authorities about the abuse your elderly loved one has suffered, you should consult an experienced nursing home and elder care abuse attorney in your area. This is an important step towards protecting your relative’s safety and rights and the well-being of other potential victims.

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