Protect the Older Adults in Your Life by Alina Lopez
June is Elder Abuse Awareness month and with the elderly population growing faster than all other age groups it is important that we protect our older adults from crimes against them. Although currently financial abuse such as theft, fraud, or electronic exploitation is the fastest growing and most common types of abuse, physical and sexual crimes affect older adults as well.
Every year, 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation, yet many cases go unreported. Incidents like these may not be a problem for active, independent seniors, but it can become an issue later in life depending on the health and mental capacity of the individual. Regardless, crimes such as identity theft or fraud can impact anyone in this age group (or any age group for that matter).
There are five types of abuse against the elderly.
-Physical Abuse: Pushing, striking, slapping, shaking, or other physical acts that can cause harm.
-Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Verbal berating, intimidation, threats, demeaning comments, or isolation from loved ones.
Neglect: A caregiver’s failure or omission to provide an elderly person with the care, supervision, and necessary services to maintain the elderly person’s physical and mental health.
-Financial or Material Exploitation: Improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets.
-Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind including assault or battery, rape, or sodomy.
Signs of abuse can show up in a victim to include physical clues such as unexplained bruises, cuts, dehydration or malnutrition, soiled bedding or clothing. Other signs that something may not be right with an elderly person is more of the behavioral aspect like fear or anxiety, anger, depression, and hesitation to talk openly.
Prevention is key in stopping elder abuse. If possible, have your elders stay nearby and close to family. Have regular contact with them and monitor their living conditions and physical aspect. Don’t allow the elderly to live with others who may be abusive and be selective with choosing caregivers.
While many of us don’t want to think or believe that one day we may not be as capable of caring for ourselves or be as independent as we used to, it is a good idea to set up a plan for our care in the event it is ever needed. Some elder adults become inflicted with mental decline such as dementia or Alzheimer’s and it deems them incapacitated. Have your finances in order and make known your wish of who will be your caregiver if you are one day unable to care for yourself. Speak with an attorney about writing up a power of attorney and a living will.
Remember, no one has the right to hit, humiliate, or physically harm you in any way. No one has the right to take your money or property. Elders have rights and deserve to be treated with respect. If you suspect elder abuse of any kind, it must be reported to the Department of Children and Families Florida Abuse Hotline by calling 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe!
To contact our office call 305-470-1670 or visit www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Written by: Alina Lopez