Dos and Don’ts To Prevent Elder Abuse

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently recognized June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in New York. Designed to increase awareness of the warning signs that could indicate abuse of an elderly relative, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is shining a spotlight on the increasing problem of the vulnerability of the elderly population to certain forms of abuse.

Abuse can occur in a community or institutional setting and can often lead to elderly people in poor health suffering in isolation. They may have no one to reach out to who can end the cycle of neglect. If people know more about the signs of elder abuse, they can act on it.

Elder abuse is recognized as a growing problem in New York. Reports of abuse cases to Protective Services for Adults have been increasing, with a 67 percent increase since 1997 and a five percent increase through 2012 to 2013.

What Can I Do To Stop Elder Abuse?

There are several ways you can stop an elderly person from suffering abuse or neglect. First, it is important to keep close ties with elderly friends or relatives because this will make them feel less isolated. It also creates a conduit for the person to share his or her problems with someone else.

You can also find out whether an elderly person is happy with the care he or she is getting and, if the person voices concerns with current home placement, explore alternative sources of care or consider in-home care. It can also be important to create a sense of community so a relative or friend does not feel alone. Join community groups that help out with service programs and publicize professional help centers.

Finally, it is important to remember that abuse is a crime and if you start to be suspicious of mistreatment, inform your local county department of social services immediately.

There Are Also Things You Should Not Do

There are several actions that you can take that may not help and may actually be considered abusive. For example, you should never take an elderly person from a nursing home simply to save money or for your own convenience, particularly if you cannot provide the care the person needs at home. You should also never assume that an elderly person is just “complaining”; often, complaints are based in fact. If the person is suffering from dementia, look for physical signs of abuse as the loved one may not be able to tell you about his or her plight.

There can be a fine line between respecting an elderly person’s independence and privacy and ignoring a growing problem. While we all want to be considerate of the feelings of our elderly loved ones, it is the right thing to do to report suspected abuse to Adult Protective Services or another agency or professional, even if you are not positive what is happening or if the elderly person denies the abuse.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of elder abuse, contact the Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York. We can help you take action to stop the abuse and collect compensation for your injuries.