When a parent, grandparent or loved one is placed in a nursing home, assisted living, or has a dedicated in-home nurse, their dependency puts them in a vulnerable situation where elder abuse can occur. Elder abuse happens when a senior citizen is taken advantage of or harmed, whether physically, mentally, sexually, or financially. No elder deserves to suffer through abuse, so it’s important to take action whenever a senior citizen is being mistreated.
Caregivers have a responsibility to report elder abuse, but there’s a chance the professional didn’t see the actions or that the caregiver themself is creating malicious behavior. Because of this, it’s essential to be informed of your options if you suspect an elderly family member or friend is being abused.
To simplify this, here are four key actions you can take if you suspect elder abuse.
1. Confirm with the Elder
One of the first things you should do when witnessing abuse is to confirm the abuse with the elder themselves. It’s one thing to have suspicions, but it’s another to have a concrete testimonial that verifies the abuse is happening. When speaking with your loved one, do so in private space away from their potential abuser.
During the conversation, be supportive, understanding, and avoid prying. Someone who is a victim of abuse is sure to feel uncomfortable talking about it and an elderly person is likely to have feelings of shame or loss of pride. Keeping this in mind, there’s always the chance that the victim will deny that the abuse that is happening to them. They might not want to accept it, feel embarrassed, or are be unaware of the extent of the abuse.
Even if your loved one denies the abuse, watch how they behave. Is their body language and behavior telling a story that their words don’t or can’t? Don’t easily take no for an answer and be certain that you aren’t overlooking any potential signs of abuse.
2. Report the Abuse
Whether you have proof or not, you should report the suspected abuse. For any changes to happen, you’ll need to follow the official process of reporting your concerns. This protocol entails contacting adult protective services (APS) and informing them of the situation.
From here, APS will conduct an investigation and see if abuse is occurring. This investigation can uncover evidence of mistreatment, which can be used in criminal charges. Failing to report elder abuse is like not telling the police that your car has been stolen; you’d have a slim chance of recovering your car if the activities are not reported to the correct authorities.
Seek help from officials which can be achieved by reporting the abuse. No action can happen without this step, and abuse could continue to leave your elderly family member vulnerable.
3. Relocate Him or Her
Another action you’ll want to take is relocating the abused elder. If an elder is being abused where they reside, then it’s no longer a safe environment and he or she will need to be removed as quickly as possible. Leaving the victim in their current condition will only perpetuate the abuse. The quickest way to make the abuse stop is by physically taking your elder out of the situation.
Relocating a loved one can be a tricky undertaking since you don’t want to put him or her back into another assisted living situation where they could be abused again. Consider that the situation may have just been a poor establishment or negligent caregiver. Alternatively, you could move the elder into your own home, however, this may not be a feasible option for you in terms of space or the required care.
Choosing an alternate nursing home is likely the best move, just be sure he or she is going to a safer location. An abusive experience will naturally make you wary of other nursing homes and senior living centers, therefore be sure to thoroughly evaluate each establishment before uprooting your relative. By exercising your due diligence, you’ll minimize the risk of future elder abuse and increase your loved one’s quality of life.
4. Act Immediately
The final thing to consider is acting immediately. Even if you only have an inkling of suspicion, don’t rest on it. Many elder abuse cases go unreported for a variety of reasons, hesitation being one of them.
Hesitating to report elder abuse is extremely harmful since it keeps your elderly family member in an abusive environment. It’s easy to overlook your loved one when you’re wrapped in your daily life, but their daily reality requires your immediate assistance, love, and care.
The quicker that you respond to potential elder abuse, the sooner that the abuse can stop. There’s no reason to delay action and it’s much better to cover your bases than discover abuse after it’s too late.
Elder abuse is a serious offense that millions of unfortunate seniors experience and one that can incur physical, sexual, mental and financial exploitation, as well as emotional damages.
Placing your loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision for anyone. Therefore, if you suspect that an elder is being abused by a caregiver, it’s imperative to take action. Remember that this isn’t your fault, but you do need to act fast by confirming the abuse with your elder, reporting the abuse to APS, then relocating him or her to a safe place. By acting immediately, you can stop the abuse as quickly as possible.
When your older family member or loved one is at their most vulnerable stage of life, it’s imperative to ensure that nobody takes advantage of them.
This post was sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are our own.