Prevention through Awareness: Five Steps to Deter Elder Abuse
For caregivers, there is nothing more insidious than the possibility of your aging loved one falling victim to senior abuse. According to WHO, “around 1 in 6 people aged 60 years and older experienced some form of elder abuse” in 2020.
With this immense statistic, it becomes important for caregivers to fight senior mistreatment through awareness and prevention. The following will reveal five basic steps to help prevent senior abuse.
1. Establish a Caregiving Network
One of the best ways to protect your aging loved one from abuse is to approach care as a network, instead of a solo project. Instead of responsibility falling on one caregiver, it can be shared within a home health aide, primary caregiver, nursing assistant, etc.!
A connected group of people places less emphasis on one individual and allows for checks on any potential bad actors.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Forms of Abuse
Preventing elder abuse becomes much easier when you know what to look for. Be mindful: this process of familiarization can take time. It’s not as simple as searching for a bruised hip or broken leg.
In fact, elder abuse can take up to seven forms: physical, sexual, emotional, financial, self-inflicted, neglect, and abandonment. Familiarize yourself with the specifics and symptoms of each of these forms of senior mistreatment.
3. Listen to Your Loved One
If you want to protect your loved one from potential abusers, you need to listen to them! Have check-ins with your loved one. Practice active listening, pay attention to body language, and honor all unspoken forms of communication. By being vigilant and listening, you can hear your loved ones’ concerns about any potential abusers, and intervene if necessary.
4. Teach Them About Scams
When it comes to elder financial abuse, there are a myriad of scams that are meant to defraud your aging loved one out of their money. Thus, it’s best to inform your loved one about the scams that are especially targeted at the elderly.
The American FBI and National Council of Aging both provide a comprehensive list of scams that seniors need to be aware of. Take the time with your loved one to familiarize them with any potential weak spots.
Keep Them Connected
A good way to help prevent potential abuse is to ensure that your loved one is still connected to their community. Seniors who are engaged in a local church, book club, or weekly bridge meeting have a tether that helps stave off feelings of isolation. Through maintaining connectivity, seniors can avoid the feelings of isolation and loneliness that an abuser will exploit.