Monday, April 22, 2013

When the Golden Years Don’t Glitter

I have a soft spot for those who rely on others for their care.  This means I pay particularly close attention to children, the elderly and animals.  People tend to watch out for children and the general public doesn’t hesitate to call about a dog left outside in extreme weather conditions or when they are left in a hot car, but one group that sometimes is forgotten about it our aging adult population.

Some time ago the officers completed training on how to spots signs of physical abuse, neglect or signs of financial exploitation.  This training was for first responders.  While it was set up for first responders, we do just that-- respond. Without having something to respond to, we may not be able to make these observations.  That’s where the public comes into the picture.

Maybe you have a friend, neighbor or a relative that requires assistance of some type with their care.  If you can’t be there to help with that care yourself, you’ve likely worked or searched to find someone who is able to fill this role.  Even though you may not be able to provide that day-in-day- out care, be vigilant and watch out for your relative, friend or neighbor.

The following lists some of the warnings signs the officers learned about in their training.  They are worthy of posting for you as well.

Signs of Financial Exploitation
Large withdrawals from elder’s bank account
Unpaid bills or lack of medical care even though the elder has enough income to pay for these things
Financial activity not appropriate for elder, such as withdrawals at an ATM by a bedridden elder or a merchant that is not appropriate for an elder
Questionable use of Power of Attorney
Unnecessary goods or services being purchased by the elder

Signs of Neglect
Unusual weight loss, malnutrition or dehydration
Untreated physical problems like bed sores
Unsanitary living conditions
Being left dirty and unbathed
Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather
Medications being taken in incorrect doses, or not at all

Signs of Physical Abuse
Bruises
Burns, puncture woods, rope abrasions at wrists or ankles
Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
Caregiver refuses to allow you to see or visit with elder alone

Being a primary caregiver in these situations can be difficult.  It is important to help these caregivers out when they need a break.  But it is imperative that we, as a society, continue to help those who can’t help themselves, and watch out for their well being.

To report elder abuse you can contact the police department directly or the Kansas Adult Protective Services Hotline (800) 922-5330