As people age, they often become more mentally and physically frail, putting them at risk of being abused or taken advantage of. If you have an elderly loved one, you need to know how to help protect them from falling victim to elder abuse.
The first line of defense against abuse is having a strong social network. The more caring people that are actively involved in an elderly person’s life, the less likely that person is to suffer from abuse. This is due to a variety of reasons. The more watchful eyes there are, the less likely a perpetrator is to have a chance to victimize the elder. Also, if an elder is supported by a strong social network, he or she is less likely to feel isolated or vulnerable, and more likely to tell someone if something bad happens.
How do you make sure your loved one has a strong social network?
- Encourage as many family members and neighbors as possible to visit and check on your loved one.
- Encourage your loved one to participate in church and community activities – this wards off isolation and contributes to having a sense of purpose. It can also help an elder stay healthy and sharp-minded.
If there’s a need for a caregiver, carefully screen all potential candidates to find someone who’s well-qualified and is compatible with your loved one.
- Try not to let the caregiver be overloaded with responsibility; frustration can lead to abuse.
- Especially if the main caregiver is a family member, consider respite care to give the main caregiver a break from his or her stressful and demanding responsibilities.
- If having an in-home caregiver does not work out, consider finding an assisted living facility or a nursing home – again, make sure to carefully screen the facilities to make sure that the employees are qualified and well-trained, and that the facility is not understaffed.
No matter where your loved one is being cared for, the best thing you can do is to stay involved and remain alert for signs of mistreatment.