Elderly people are often emotionally and physically vulnerable to caregiver pressures. If you suspect that a caregiver is taking advantage of your aging parent, it is important to remember that you have options to remedy the situation. The appropriate action will depend on your parent’s particular circumstances.
Elder abuse, according to the World Health Organization or WHO, is defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”
While most caregivers of the elderly provide their services in a caring and professional manner, there are instances when a caregiver takes advantage of the unique relationship to exploit an elderly person. The caregiver’s activities sometimes reach the level of elder abuse (physical or mental abuse or neglect) or financial exploitation. In such cases, the caregiver may be criminally responsible for the abuse or exploitation.
How to prevent elder abuse
Planning for an aging parent should include making a Will and granting Durable Power of Attorney for health and finances. Because of the complexity of family dynamics, it may make more sense to divide responsibility among several siblings.
If your parent is still mentally competent, you can encourage him or her to speak with an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney. If your parent consults a knowledgeable attorney, creating a solid estate plan can help resolve issues with a caregiver. Thorough estate planning is one of the most effective ways to prevent strangers and family members from taking advantage of an elderly loved one.
If you cannot convince your parent to meet with an attorney, then you should speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your parent’s circumstances, including concerns about the caregiver. Based on the situation, your attorney can suggest options for moving forward and resolving the issues.
Report it immediately, no matter what!
You should always report abuse when you see it or even suspect it is happening. Most importantly, your aging parent or loved one should always be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their age or disability.
You cannot worry about how your family members will react to you reporting suspected abuse; their safety is paramount. At the very least, consider the following: If an abusive caregiver has taken advantage of an older person, chances are he or she will continue this behavior until forced to stop. Your intervention by reporting could save a multitude of victims.
If the abused person is too incapacitated or cognitively unable to self-report what is happening, someone needs to advocate on their behalf and take action against the abuser. This will prevent the abuser from continuing to hurt more people when they separate from this victim.
How to Help Your Aging Parent or Loved One
A caretaker may or may not be abusive, but if you suspect that they are taking advantage of your parent, act on it immediately and get them out of the home.
We discussed how to recognize the signs of elder abuse and what to do if your parent is being mistreated by a caregiver. If you are not sure if abuse is occurring, talk to your parent about your concerns. If they are being abused or neglected, you need to take action. First, you can make sure your parent is safe – either in their own home or in another location – by removing the abuser and taking other safety measures. Then, report the abuse to authorities and make sure the necessary medical care is provided.
How you proceed depends entirely on the specific facts of your parent’s situation; but regardless, there are always alternatives. Our attorney can help you find the right solution for your parent. Call us today on how to proceed and discuss your case.