How Can I Protect an Elder Loved One From Abuse?

The (Lorain OH) Morning Journal’s recent article, “How to protect elder loved ones from abuse,” reports that the National Center on Elder Abuse says the 2010 census showed the largest number and proportion of people are 65 years old and older in the U.S. population with 40.3 million people, or about 13% of the population. By 2050, that number is expected to more than double to 83.7 million.

A 2010 national study found that financial abuse is the most commonly reported form of abuse followed by potential neglect, emotional mistreatment, physical mistreatment and sexual mistreatment. With financial abuse and neglect, the courts often must get involved to limit the damage and try to get the elderly person the help they need.

When looking for elder abuse in family or friends, look for changes in their circumstances. A neighbor may become more isolated or is making decisions that are potentially harmful to themselves. There’s also self-neglect, where a senior isn’t taking good care of themselves. “New people” in their lives may also be a risk. They may want to assume control over the senior’s person’s life and exclude other people who have had longstanding relationships with the person.

Financial exploitation can take many different forms. Isolation is a critical component of financial exploitation. If a senior is isolated from the people who’ve helped them make financial decisions in the past, and then a new person comes along, that individual may try to make financial decisions for their own gain.

If you think a loved one or neighbor is suffering from elder abuse, start by just talking to them. Talk to them about some of the changes you’ve seen.

There are people who are required by law to report elder abuse, and that list has recently expanded to include chiropractors, dentists, ambulance drivers, coroners and member of the clergy, among many others.

A judge can freeze a bank account and suspend powers of attorney. She can also order evaluations and require that Medi-Cal and Medicare applications be made for the adult. A judge can continue her orders up to six months and appoint guardians.

An emergency elder abuse restraining order can also be sought against the abuser.

The best way to keep loved ones safe from this kind of elder abuse, is to make certain that important legal documents like a will, trust and powers of attorney are done while the person is still competent, and that people they trust are named to carry out those documents.

Reference: The (Lorain OH) Morning Journal (December 26, 2018) “How to protect elder loved ones from abuse”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Elder Abuse, Financial Abuse, Elder Care, Will, Power of Attorney

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