Because elder abuse is difficult to determine when it is in a private home and sometimes in a long term care facility, it is important to know what you can do if you suspect that someone is being harmed. Preventing abuse is always something that all Americans should be mindful about and knowing what to do can help in that effort. Georgia law protects our elders from abuse. We do not have to fight alone.
The National Center on Elder Abuse suggests several things that anyone can do to prevent elder abuse. Some of these are as follows. First and foremost it is key to know what to look out for in elder abuse or in elder neglect. If you observe any of these things, you might be seeing the signs of elder abuse. If the elder’s caregiver argues or has tension with the elder this can be a sign of an issue. If the elder seems withdrawn or is displaying signs of anxiety like rocking or mumbling and has not done these things before, this could be a sign of elder abuse. Also if you witness any impatience or belittling by the caregiver with the elder.
Other signs would be injuries that cannot be verified as accidental such as bruising, broken bones or sprains or improper medication that is resulting in a variation in behavior of the elder. If the elder’s eyeglasses are broken. If the caregiver will not allow you to see the elder alone so that the elder might be able to confide in you. This a warning sign.
To monitor the wellness of the elder make sure to contact or visit the elder. Talk with them and ask them how they are doing and whether they have any concerns about their care. Try to listen without judging so that the person feels comfortable sharing what might be difficult information to expose. It is also helpful to speak with other family members and other friends and relatives if you think there is a risk of elder abuse. Give the elder every opportunity to talk about any problems they may be experiencing. Be non-judgmental.
Give the caregiver a break from time to time and make sure the caregiver is not getting burned out from ongoing care. Talk with the elder’s bank if you think there could be financial abuse going on. Review the elder’s accounts to make sure bills are being paid and there are no unusual funds going out of the account.
It goes without saying that abuse should be reported. The state agency that takes these reports is Georgia Adult Protective Services, Central Intake Division. Reports can also be made directly to law enforcement. In some cases, when abuse has already been reported it might continue. So make sure to follow up and maintain contact with the agency or law enforcement to ensure the case is proceeding.
Protecting our elders from abuse requires that we pay attention to small things and big things. Does your elder seem engaged when you visit, have they lost weight or do they seem agitated? Being concerned about their welfare and quality of life is a way of giving back for all they have done for you and your family over your lifetime. If you are fortunate to live into old age, you would want someone protecting you as well. Have the courage to say something if you are concerned about elder abuse.
If you have any questions about elder care or elder abuse contact Scholle Law for guidance.