Stopping elder abuse is only possible after you first learn to recognize the signs. Discover how you can help prevent abuse to the elderly.
Elder abuse can include physical or sexual abuse, financial exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats) or abandonment. Significantly, it can also include the idea of neglect.
According to most data, simple neglect and the powerful negative effect of that neglect is the most common type of abuse to the elderly. It’s a sobering thought, the idea that the absence of any action can be in itself so harmful to someone.
Use these 10 ideas to prevent abuse to the elderly.
1. Call or visit an elderly loved one or family friend who lives alone and ask how he or she is doing. Invite them to a family activity like a grandchild’s soccer match or other sporting event. Take them to a community gathering like a 4th of July event or local parade.
2. Think about ways an older acquaintance, family member or neighbor can share their talents by teaching you or your children a new skill, such as knitting, gardening, cooking and so on. Encourage and educate your children about identifying seniors as a valuable resource for school projects: from World War II and Vietnam to the civil rights movement and the Equal Rights Amendment, they may have lived through and experienced the very events your child is studying in class!
3. Whether it’s for a family member serving as a caregiver or for a professional, make sure the individual caring for someone gets a break.
4. Ask your bank manager if they train tellers and other associates on how to detect elder financial abuse.
5. Send a letter/email to your local newspaper, radio or TV station suggesting that they cover World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) or Grandparents Day in September.
6. Contact your local Adult Protective Services or Long-Term Care Ombudsman to learn how to support their work helping at-risk elders and adults with disabilities.
7. Organize a “Respect Your Elders” essay or poster contest in your child’s school. If the school doesn’t already offer the program, take steps to organize a Grandparent’s Day or Grandpals’ Day in your local elementary school to foster intergenerational respect. It could be timed to coincide with National Grandparents Day which is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day, annually.
8. Ask community or religious leaders to give a talk about elder exploitation at an event or to put a message about elder abuse on their website, in a bulletin on in a newsletter.
9. Volunteer to be a visitor to a nursing home resident or to a homebound senior in your neighborhood. Many animal shelters will “loan” dogs or cats for pet therapy excursions since studies show that interacting with pets can improve physical and emotional health. You could also volunteer at a local chapter of Meals on Wheels, which is also a good way for volunteers to observe if a senior is managing well at home, or if he or she may need other assistance.
10. A great way to spread the word about elder abuse is to dedicate your marathon, bike race or other event toward preventing elder abuse. As you gather sponsors, create a webpage and reach out to others. Conversations around what you’re doing will help spread awareness about the subject of abuse to the elderly