Many elderly people rely entirely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. Whether it is for physical needs or emotional needs, as people grow older they tend to need more and more help from others. This dependence on caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable for abuse.
For example, an older person relying on her children to provide meals and transportation and help her with financial decisions finds it difficult to complain when one of her children takes advantage of her. If, for instance, the child takes her money, hits her or neglects her care, the parent may be threatened with loss of support from the child if the parent complains. The child may also use threats of violence to keep the parent in line.
It is estimated that 5% to 10% of elderly Americans are suffering abuse. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse,
The following is a list of indicators of abuse, neglect or exploitation. It is important to note that the following lists are merely indicators and may not always be violations.
Signs of Abuse:
- Unexplained bruises, welts, fractures, abrasions or lacerations
- Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
- Multiple/repeat injuries
- Low self-esteem or loss of self determination
- Withdrawn, passive
- Depressed, hopeless
- Soiled linen or clothing
- Social Isolation
Signs of Neglect/Self-Neglect:
- Inappropriate or soiled clothing
- Over/under medicated
- Deserted, abandoned or unattended
- Lack of medical necessities or assistive devices
- Unclean environment
- Social Isolation
Signs of Exploitation:
- Missing/"disappearing" property
- Inadequate living environment
- Frequent/recent property title changes or will changes
- Excessive home repair bills
- Forced to sign over control of finances
- No/limited money for food, clothes and other amenities
Prevention can only occur if there is awareness, the statutes are adhered to, and any suspicions of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults are immediately reported to Adult Protective Services and/or law enforcement.
At Idaho Estate Planning, we understand the challenges faced by elder Americans and their families. We have resources throughout the Treasure Valley, experts in the field of Elder Care & Planning. We have the experience and expertise to help you maintain your options and protect yourself as well as your loved ones now and into the future. Remember, good planning is no accident.