As our loved ones begin to age, they are at increased risk to be taken advantage of. While many would like to be the primary caregiver for their parent or other loved one, due to living far apart or other obligations, seniors oftentimes are cared for by home health workers, neighbors or other family members. Unfortunately, according to a report released by the US Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 million seniors suffer from elder abuse each year. Elder abuse is defined as physical or mental abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.
As discussed in a Next Avenue article titled “5 Steps to Combat and Prevent Elder Abuse”, seniors may suffer from abuse by in-home caregivers but are more likely to be taken advantage of by family members. In fact, one in every 10 adults age 60 or older suffers from some form of elder abuse.
In order to prevent abuse of your loved one, it is important to be aware that it is a widespread problem and can happen even with a family member as a caregiver. While bruises and signs of physical abuse are typically easier to spot, it is important to watch for more common financial abuse and exploitation by checking financial statements. Finally, always be sure to report elder abuse if it happens. Only 1 in 24 families report abuse to authorities, which makes it more difficult to address the damage caused by the abuse and prevent it from happening to other families.