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Understanding Elder Abuse: Tips for Identification and Action

In observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Griswold outlines some of the red flags to look out for and the best ways to take action.

As one of the country's top in-home care franchises, Griswold aims to elevate awareness around the critical issue of senior abuse in observance of World Elder Abuse Day on June 15. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of preventing elder abuse and supporting the rights and well-being of older people. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse. Understanding the signs of elder abuse and knowing how to take action can make a significant difference in the lives of our seniors.

Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse can be challenging to detect, as it often occurs behind closed doors and may be hidden by the abuser or the victim's fear of speaking out. However, being aware of the signs can help in identifying and preventing abuse. Here are some common indicators:

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, or injuries: Look for patterns or frequent occurrences.
  • Burns or welts: Particularly in unusual places or with distinctive shapes.
  • Fear of specific individuals: The elder may show signs of fear or discomfort around certain people.

Emotional Abuse

  • Withdrawal from normal activities: The elder may become isolated or disengaged.
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior: Look for signs of anxiety, depression, or fear.
  • Unusual financial activities: Emotional abuse can sometimes coincide with financial exploitation.

Sexual Abuse

  • Bruises around breasts or genitals: Physical signs can indicate sexual abuse.
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases: STDs can be a red flag.
  • Torn or bloody undergarments: Any sign of physical trauma should be investigated.

Financial Abuse

  • Unusual bank withdrawals or transfers: Large or frequent transactions can indicate exploitation.
  • Sudden changes in financial status: Be alert to unexplained changes in financial circumstances.
  • Missing belongings or property: The elder may report stolen items or missing property.

How to Take Action

If you suspect elder abuse, it's crucial to act promptly to protect the well-being of the individual. Here are steps you can take:

Reporting Abuse

  • Contact local authorities: This can include Adult Protective Services (APS), the police or a trusted medical professional.
  • Call a helpline: Many organizations have hotlines dedicated to elder abuse prevention and support.

Supporting the Victim

  • Listen and provide support: Encourage the elder to speak about their experiences and offer emotional support.
  • Create a safety plan: Help them develop a plan to leave the abusive situation, if necessary.
  • Seek professional help: Connect them with legal, medical and social services for comprehensive support.

Preventative Measures

  • Stay involved: Regular contact with elderly loved ones can help detect changes in behavior or circumstances.
  • Educate others: Raise awareness about elder abuse within your community to help prevent it.
  • Encourage empowerment: Support elders in making decisions about their care and finances.

Griswold's Commitment to Elder Protection

As a leading in-home care franchise, Griswold is dedicated to safeguarding the well-being of seniors. Our caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of elder abuse and provide compassionate, effective, non-medical support. Here are some ways Griswold helps prevent and address elder abuse:

  • Thorough caregiver screening: Ensuring caregivers are qualified and trustworthy.
  • Ongoing training: Providing education on recognizing and preventing elder abuse.
  • Open communication: Maintaining transparent communication with families and the client’s entire care team.

“At Griswold, we prioritize the safety and dignity of our seniors,” said Steven Turner, COO at Griswold. “Elder abuse is a serious issue that requires vigilance, education and action. We are committed to supporting our clients and their families in creating a safe and nurturing environment.”

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