Elder Abuse And How To Prevent It

Old age should be a time to treasure. Unfortunately, some seniors are at risk of becoming a victim of elder abuse.

Elder abuse comes in all forms, from physical, sexual or emotional abuse to neglect and financial exploitation. Seniors are at risk, in part, because they tend to be very trusting and sometimes find themselves alone and isolated. Tragically, the most common abusers are the very same people that seniors should be able to trust the most - a spouse, other family members or a caregiver.

The sad truth is that it's very difficult to restore someone's physical, emotional and financial well-being after the cruel crime of elder abuse has been committed. And that's why the community must focus its efforts on preventing abuse before it occurs. A clearer understanding of elder abuse can be an effective step towards prevention.

But just as important, seniors themselves can take steps to protect themselves and maintain their lifestyle in order to decrease the risk of becoming a victim of abuse. With the aging of our population, here are some precautions that seniors can take to remain active and independent and avoid becoming isolated and more vulnerable to becoming a victim:

Maintain social contacts. Keep in touch with old friends and neighbors, even if you move.

Develop a buddy system with a trusted friend outside the home.
Ask friends to visit you at home.
Participate in social and community activities.
Volunteer your time at a local community activity or charity or join a group or organization. Accept opportunities to do new things.
Arrange to have your Social Security, pension check or other income deposited directly into your bank account rather than mailed to your home.
Open your own mail.
Don't sign a document unless someone you trust has reviewed it.
Don't live with someone who has a history of violent behavior or substance abuse.
Use an answering machine to screen your phone calls.
Get legal advice before considering making arrangements for someone to care for you in exchange for money or property.
Don't allow anyone to keep from you the details of your finances or property management.
Review your will periodically. Don't make changes to it without careful consideration and discussion with a trusted family member or friend.