What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse can take physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or financial forms. It may be perpetrated by strangers or by friends or family members of the elderly person. Sometimes elder abuse involves taking certain harmful actions, such as assaulting or overmedicating an elderly person. In many situations, though, elder abuse consists of neglecting an elder’s needs or abandoning an elder who needs care. Neglect can result in problems such as malnutrition, dehydration, and inadequate personal hygiene.
What are common signs of elder abuse?
Many signs of elder abuse are physical, including bed sores, broken bones, bruises, and sudden weight loss. However, family members of elderly people should be alert to non-physical signs as well. These may include withdrawal, depression, mood swings, and sudden personality changes. If you are visiting a loved one at a nursing home or assisted living facility, you should pay attention to how the staff interact with them. You also should pay attention to any unexpected changes in their financial situation, which may indicate that they are being victimized by a scam.
What do I do if I suspect elder abuse?
You should remove your loved one from the abusive situation as soon as possible. If they are living at a nursing home at which the staff may be abusing them, you should take them out of the nursing home immediately. You should assist them in getting medical attention for the effects of the abuse. Also, you should promptly consult a lawyer to find out about the types of legal claims that they could potentially bring. If the abuse is physical or otherwise criminal, you should not hesitate to ask the police to investigate it.
How can an elderly person stay free from abuse?
An elderly person should monitor their health carefully and address any issues that may arise. They should try to maintain their relationships with family members and people in the community. Also, they should devise a thorough estate plan, which should include documents like an advance health care directive and a financial power of attorney. This will allow a trustworthy person to handle important decisions for them if they become incapacitated. Before they sign any documents that they do not fully understand, they should consult a family member or friend (or a lawyer) who can explain the documents to them. They should be wary of telemarketers, offers that seem too good to be true, and solicitations that involve making a large purchase or investment. If managing their own finances becomes a burden, they should consult family members or industry professionals who can assist them.
How do I choose a nursing home?
Ideally, you should ask for referrals from family members, friends, colleagues, and other people whom you know. The elderly person’s doctor also may have recommendations for nursing homes in your area. Even if you trust a person who gives you a recommendation, though, you should make sure to research the nursing home’s reputation online. You will want to find out about any complaints or consumer reports that have been filed against it. Before placing your loved one in a nursing home, you should visit the facility and observe how the staff members interact with one another and with residents. Nursing homes that provide superior care usually have good staff-resident ratios, which allows them to provide each resident with regular attention. You may want to ask about how the nursing home staff would handle certain emergencies or situations that would be likely to arise for your loved one. Before signing a nursing home contract, you should make sure that you understand its terms.
What are the options for long-term care?
Long-term care can be provided in many different settings beyond the skilled nursing facility that usually comes to mind. Home health care is becoming increasingly popular, allowing elderly people to maintain a measure of independence for as long as possible. Assisted living facilities offer an intermediate alternative between home health care and nursing facilities, providing some medical care and professional monitoring while also offering a relatively homelike environment. Continuing care retirement communities may work well for elderly people whose needs for care fluctuate. They can move among sections of the community as their condition changes.
How can I stay in my home as I get older?
Staying in your home is more feasible if you have family members, friends, or people in the community who are able to assist you periodically with your needs. You also may want to consider making home modifications that take any medical conditions into account. Many elderly people find that staying in their home is less expensive than moving into a nursing home or an assisted living facility. They might be eligible for some types of government benefits, or they might get a reverse mortgage on their home or consider long-term care insurance. Unfortunately, some physical and mental conditions make it impossible for an elderly person to stay in their home, since they cannot be effectively addressed through home health care.
Do I lose any rights when I make a power of attorney?
No. A power of attorney simply allows a designated person whom you trust to exercise the rights that are provided in the power of attorney document. While powers of attorney often cover a broad range of matters, you can craft a power of attorney as narrowly as you choose. The power of attorney does not provide that an elderly person surrenders these rights. The only “right” that you are relinquishing is the right to retain sole control over the area governed by the power of attorney.
What is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship?
This will vary depending on the state, and some states use these terms interchangeably. In other states, though, a guardianship is designed to protect the physical and mental well-being of the elderly person, while a conservatorship involves financial matters. The judge will determine the scope of the duties of the guardian or conservator when they make a finding that a guardianship or conservatorship is needed.
Should an elderly person get long-term care insurance?
Long-term care insurance is meant to cover some or all of the expenses involved with being placed in a nursing home. Some long-term care insurance policies cover stays in assisted living facilities and home health care as well. Since these costs tend to be expensive, and Medicare does not cover them, many elderly people are attracted to long-term care insurance. However, it is not the right solution for everyone. It is usually expensive, and it may not cover all or most of the care that an elderly person eventually needs. Only a small minority of elderly people have signed up for it, and a substantial percentage of policy holders never collect any benefits from it. You should carefully read the terms of any policy that you are considering so that you understand its precise scope.
How can I be a good caregiver for my parents?
You should balance sensitivity to their emotions with a rational understanding of their needs. Some elderly people will accept their increasing limitations and recognize the importance of developing a strategy to address them. Others will feel reluctant to confront the effects of age and will fight hard to retain their independence. Either perspective is understandable, and you will need to approach discussions of elder law issues carefully. However, if you suspect that your parent is being abused or exploited, you should not hesitate to take action. If you are not able to care for them regularly, you should take the time to identify other people or organizations that can fill the gaps. You should not feel compelled to neglect your own health or the well-being of your family so that you can care for your parents.