News from Self-Directed Personal Assistant Services

Recognize and Stop Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a big problem in the United States that has escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Council on Aging, as many as 5 million seniors are victims of abuse each year, but this crime is significantly under-reported with only 1 in 14 cases turned in to authorities.

Elder abuse is defined as intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that can cause harm to a vulnerable senior – or a person with a disability. It can take many forms: emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological, and include neglect and self-neglect or even financial exploitation.

How to recognize abuse?

How can you tell if someone is being abused and what can you do to help? A change in general behavior is a universal warning sign. If you notice someone has become very depressed, withdrawn, or gets upset or agitated easily, you need to start asking questions. 

Look for suspicious injuries or bruises that can’t be explained, broken eyeglasses, weight loss, poor hygiene, unusual behavior, missing money or unexplained withdrawals or bank transfers, sudden credit card debt.

What to do –

The best ways to help is to be in touch and keep the lines of communication open. If you suspect any type of abuse or neglect, report it to your local protective services agency.

The agency will ask what you observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more. You don’t need to prove abuse is occurring, that is up to the professional.

Call Adult Protective Services, the government agency responsible for investigating abuse cases and providing help and guidance. Click this link Eldercare Locator or call at 800-677-1116 to get an agency contact number in your area.

If the person is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police for immediate help.