In the first part of this article, we discussed elder abuse and how to recognise the signs. Now let’s look at how we as a community can become proactive and report this abuse.
Often one does not know how to deal with suspected issues and worry that they may be wrong in their accusations or that they make matters worse for the senior that they are trying to help. Both these are very valid concerns and one needs to be sure of their facts before flying off the handle and making yourself look like an overzealous do-gooder. On the other hand, this cannot be allowed to be ignored. Our seniors deserve better than this.
To prevent elder abuse we all need to listen to our seniors and their caregivers. Intervene when you think there is abuse on the go and educate others so that they too can be vigilant and proactive.
Some caregivers are overwhelmed by the task on hand. They can request help from friends, family and professional companies who can offer you some respite even if it is just a few hours to get a breather. Make an effort to keep yourself healthy and look into day care programs that might give you a bit of a break.
Family friends and relatives who are concerned can keep a watch for the warning signs and step in when help is needed. Offer yourself on a regular basis to provide the caregiver with some free time. If you see other signs of abuse that you unable to resolve yourself then you should report it.
Discuss it with the elder’s doctor or lawyer and if you cannot find a resolution yourself then you are obligated to report it. The Toronto Police Website has this number for distressed calls. (416) 408-4357 If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse they can help you report it. If you are not in this area, your local 911 will be able to direct your call the right authority.
Prevention is better than cure and if you are elderly then you need to make sure that you have someone trustworthy to handle your financial and personal affairs. It is often wise to divide this responsibility than to leave it all in the hands of one person. A family member may have personal power of attorney over everyday needs, while your attorney might take care of financial affairs. This is not foolproof and you could always have a third person, to monitor and oversee but not have a legal say. This third person, by not having a legal say in your affairs could be your watchdog and supervise the other two “trusted” people on your team. In this way, he or she has no vested interested in abusing you and if they care about you, they will take the time to see that you are well taken care of. This person would need to know the right channels to follow if something is amiss and report any wrong doings on your behalf.