When posed with the question “how to prevent elder abuse”, it may seem logical that the only preventative measure is keeping elderly loved ones close to home, whether that measure is by caring for them yourself, or placing them in the care of a trusted loved one. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof method to preventing elder abuse. What makes elder abuse even more tragic is the fact that family members and caregivers are most often those inflicting abuse or neglect.
Even though there is no foolproof method of preventing abuse, there are strategies that families and communities can utilize to protect their elderly loved ones. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) highlights several prevention strategies used by communities all across the United States. These strategies include:
- Advance Planning Tools: Elderly individuals and their loved ones can use advance planning tools to clarify the individual’s wishes in the event that he or she is unable to do so. Advance planning tools often include living wills, advance directives, power of attorney designation, etc. These measures can help reduce the risk of financial exploitation and ensure that the individual is cared for in health and overall wellbeing.
- Public Awareness: To help prevent elder abuse at home, and in the community, public awareness is a powerful tool. Public awareness can help elderly individuals and their families understand the risks of abuse and neglect, can identify problem areas in the community, can clarify misconceptions about laws, regulations, and polices, and much more.
- Addressing Ageism: Ageism is a form of discrimination like many others in society that inflicts harm on many individuals and their wellbeing. Ageism is thought to contribute to misconceptions about the elderly, and often leads to marginalization and devaluation of elderly lives.
- Criminal Background and Abuse Registry Checks: Using tools like criminal background checks, arrest records, abuse registries, and complaint registries is an excellent tool to help prevent elder abuse. Before an individual or facility is tasked with caring for your loved one – always be prepared to explore their abilities, training, and dedication to the job.
What you can do to Prevent Elder Abuse
The best way to prevent elder abuse is to be proactive, such as utilizing the methods listed above. In addition, it is important for families to remain an active participant in the lives of their elderly loved ones. In doing so, it becomes easier to recognize potential warning signs and address concerns before a problem arises.
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to elder abuse, contact an elder abuse attorney to find out more about your legal rights and options to protect your rights and your future.