February 5, 2014
Sometimes it takes watchful eyes to keep seniors safe. Whether it’s physical, emotional or financial abuse, or any other kind, those who come in contact with seniors can look for signs that all is not well.
In banking, if you spot a senior who seems distressed and who repeatedly takes large sums of money out of an account (or changes his or her routine), that senior might be a victim of abuse or a scam. (Seniors, don’t use the drive-up teller window. Go inside so staff can get to know you. Sign a new signature card every six months so your handwriting sample is current.)
If you spot personality changes in a senior, the cause might be physical — or it might be a result of abuse. Ask what’s going on. If a senior who used to dress immaculately is now wearing the same clothes for days in a row, ask. If a senior is no longer as sociable or doesn’t participate in previous activities, ask. If you spot bruises or injury, ask.
In a caregiver or hospital situation, you might see lack of care or physical abuse. A neighbor who has had relatives move in might suddenly change his or her routines. At home, the senior might be denied food or medicine or mail.
If you want more information to help seniors, go online to the National Center on Elder Abuse (www.ncea.aoa.gov) or call 1-855-500-3537. Learn about the signs of abuse and what you can do when you suspect it’s taking place. Check eldercare.gov, or call 1-800-677-1116. You’ll find information on getting help for housing, in-home services, long-term care, nutrition ... and abuse.
Seniors, if you think you’re being abused in any way, call the police. You don’t have to put up with abusive treatment.
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