Elder abuse is substantially under-reported, primarily because many people who are suffering as victims do not feel comfortable speaking up. Many others do not realize that they have potential legal recourse or may so concerned about backlash from the person perpetrating the abuse or the facility that they choose not to speak up. The most common warning signs of elder abuse are sudden and strange changes to a loved one’s financial, physical, or emotional wellbeing.
Watching for physical symptoms is an easy way to spot the potential for physical or sexual abuse. Symptoms and signs of elder abuse can include poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, injuries such as broken bones, cuts, or bruises, unexplained loss of money or confusion around particular transactions, withdrawal from friends and family members, symptoms of depression, signs of confusion, and discomfort speaking around the person who may be carrying out the abuse.
If you find yourself in the position of dealing with elder abuse, particularly at the hands of someone in a nursing home, you should consult with an experienced attorney. You might also need to move a loved one to a new facility to get the peace of mind provided when you know they are being cared for well. There’s so much to think about when you have concerns over elder abuse, but their safety should be front and center.
Physical abuse is just one example. Financial elder abuse is a serious issue on the rise as well.
Having estate planning documents put in place sooner rather than later, can establish a power of attorney for an elderly loved one that can help to serve as an additional layer of protection. However, to avoid potential elder abuse by the person holding the power of attorney, it is important to select a trusted individual to serve in this role. Talk with an estate planning lawyer about how you can use certain tools like a POA to help reduce the risk of financial elder abuse.