One problem in this country that often goes unattended to is elderly abuse. Every day people of an older generation are getting abused and taken advantage of, and nothing is done about it. This stems from two things – first, that the person causing the abuse is often close to the elderly person and second, that many of us do not recognize the signs. If you suspect someone close to you is being abused, here are some of the warning signs.
Physical abuse is probably the easiest to notice, but can still go overlooked if the person in question chalks it up to an accident. Things like broken bones, bruises, restraint marks, or broken equipment (I.e their glasses) can all be signs that this person is being abused.
Emotional abuse is a little harder to detect, but it is no less important to try and catch. If you witness a caregiver insulting, belittling, threatening or trying to control someone, then these are all signs of abuse. You may also notice a change in behavior from the elder, something that resembles dementia. If they are rocking back and forth, mumbling to themselves, or sucking on something, these can all be signs that they are experiencing abuse.
If you notice a significant change in an elder’s financial situation, or that they are suddenly missing money either from their bank account, or from cash that they normally have, you will want to look into this. Financial exploitation is common among caregivers, as the elderly are less able to defend themselves or manage their affairs. Be on the lookout for things like names added to a will or signature card, or bills going unpaid even though the elder has the money to pay them.
If someone is in charge of providing care for an elder, and they fail to do so, this is considered abuse. Signs that they are being neglected include untreated illnesses or injuries, weight loss, poor hygiene, or being left in a public place unattended.
Lastly, we have healthcare fraud. Healthcare fraud is when someone uses another person’s healthcare to turn a profit, often by filing claims for unneeded treatments and medication. If you notice things like the person being billed twice for the same treatment, getting too much or too little medication, or sub-standard care even though the bill was paid in full, then these are all signs of healthcare fraud and are considered abuse.
What You Should Do
If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused, you should contact a lawyer right away. Firms like Garcia Law – who are Los Angeles Elder Abuse Lawyers – specialize in this sort of thing and will know how to handle the situation. There are elder abuse lawyers all over the country, so you should be able to find one near you.
The next step would then be to get the elder into a safe place that is away from the abusive caregiver. This may not be an easy process, but with the help of your lawyer, and proof of abuse, you should be able to get the elderly person the help they need.
The most important thing you can do is not to wait. As soon as you suspect that an elderly person is being abused, you should get help. Just as older generations took care of us when we were younger, now it is our turn to make sure that they are properly cared for. Keeping your eyes out for signs of abuse, and then acting on them if you see them, is one of the best things you can do for them.
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