How to Protect Yourself from Elderly Abuse
Of course, not! It will sadden you; it will ruin your self-respect. You will feel insulted, angry and, maybe, want to strike back at your tormentor if only you aren’t so weak and helpless.
Note: Video is a social experiment to raise people’s awareness to the growing menace of elderly abuse and to see how the public reacts to it.
I know how it feels because sometimes I get the receiving end of a-day-gone-bad from my children.
While mine happens very rarely and I always give my children a piece of my mind when it does, some seniors are too timid, too weak, and too embarrassed to say anything. Consequently they experience elderly abuse morning, noon and nighttime.
Yes, elderly abuse is very real and rising. In fact, according to Jay Martin, an elderly abuse expert and executive director of Maine Legal Services for the Elderly, 1 in 10 American seniors aged 60 and older (roughly 5 million), experience abuse, neglect or exploitation.
What is Elderly Abuse?
Elderly abuse (also called “elder mistreatment,” “senior abuse,” “abuse in later life,” “abuse of older adults,” “abuse of older women,” and “abuse of older men”) is a “single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
Elderly abuse can be any or a combination of the following:
– Physical: non-accidental use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment;
– Emotional: verbal intimidation through yelling or threats;
– Psychological: non-verbal, like ignoring the elderly person;
– Financial exploitation: frauds and scams.
The most common, and most worrisome, is financial exploitation because 34% of the cases are perpetrated by members of the family and friends. The rest are committed by strangers and the business sector, i.e., online frauds and scams.
How to Protect Yourself from Elderly Abuse:
One of the reasons why elderly abuse is unchecked is because the victims rarely report their sad plight to the authorities. In fact only 1 in 4 actually becomes a formal complaint. Most are swept under the rug.
You can help solve this problem by doing your share. Remember that you don’t lose your right for a fair shake because of old age. On the contrary, you should be treated with more loving kindness for having paid your dues to society and your family.
To do that, you can:
1. Stay connected:
Always get connected with sympathetic family members, friends, neighbors, priests, social worker, or anybody you can confide to, confidentially.
Open up to them. Don’t be shy and don’t window-dress either – tell it as it is, no more, no less.
Even if they cannot directly help you, letting it out is better than bottling it up.
2. Put your financial affairs in order:
This is the most common and harmful if financial exploitation. To protect yourself, put your financial affairs in order to make it easy for you to know if you have been taken advantage of.
Make sure your finances are in good order and easy to track and monitor to make you less vulnerable to exploitation.
Note: It is estimated that elderly Americans lose nearly $3 billion each year due to financial abuse. Considering the size of the problem, it will be dealt with in more detail in a separate article.
3. See your doctor regularly:
Not only is seeing your doctor regularly good to monitor your overall health and well-being, doctors can also detect signs of elderly abuse.
Don’t hide or deny it, if he does. Telling him the real score is for your own good.
4. Avoid people with questionable lifestyles:
People who drink, gamble, stay up late, use drugs, or go on frequent binge are more likely to be short of cash and may take advantage of you.
Yes, helping others is a noble cause. But you must help yourself first before you do others. Charity begins at home, remember that.
If possible, keep your guard up in dealing with them.
5. Carefully choose caregivers and other service providers:
Carefully choose the people you ask into your home for help, i.e., carpenters, plumbers, electricians, TV repairmen, or home care specialists.
Thoroughly check their background and the company they work with if you get them from a newspaper or online ad. Better yet, get referrals from friends, or family members.
6. Keep valuables in a safe place:
You will be less likely to fall victim to home invasion or exploitation from family and friends if they can’t see anything of value. So don’t let them see you have something worth stealing.
Do not keep cash at home worth more than you need in a week. Either deposit the extra in a bank, or in a safe deposit box.
Elderly abuse is most common among seniors living with their families, and their tormentors usually family members, like, grandchildren, children and their spouses.
You need not put up with these inhuman treatment more than you can bear. You can call 911 or let your plight be known to the APS (Adult Protective Service). They are tasked to assure the safety of elders and dependent adults.
Sometimes you have to put your feet down and say, “Enough is enough.”
Please help other seniors by sharing this, or by subscribing to my newsletter to get a weekly update about the exciting, often bittersweet, life of the elderly.