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Wealth is not a Barrier to Abuse and Exploitation— it’s an Invitation


By: Judie Rappaport

Reposted from: http://www.preferredlifestyleservices.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=107&returnTo=eldercare-911-blog

Date: December 6, 2011

If you believe your parent or client is insulated from Abuse and Exploitation, think again.  Studies estimate that more than 2.5 million older people each year are injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection, with 90% of the abuse committed by a perpetrator known to the elderly victim. 1

If you find those estimates horrifying, you’ll find reality even more chilling:

• For every 1 case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported. 2

• In the year 2000, estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at only 1 in 25 cases, suggesting that there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims each year. 3 The numbers are certainly higher today.

• Data of domestic elder abuse suggests that only 1 in 14 incidents excluding (excluding self neglect) come to the attention of authorities. 4

Elder abuse doesn’t discriminate; it crosses all socio-economic boundaries. Neglecting or denying its existence leads to unnecessary suffering, unimaginable physical and emotional pain, and in the worse-case scenarios, death.

If you’re a financial/legal advisor for elders or special needs clients, the chances are excellent that one or more of your clients are being abused. The abuser may be a family member or hired caregiver who exercises power and control over your physically frail or cognitively impaired client or loved one. Your loved one’s or clients’ cries for help may go unheard if they are unable to communicate effectively. They also may fear harsher abuse or abandonment by her caretaker—in other words, they may feel trapped and powerless.

Society, backed by federal and state legislation, is now paying more attention to this heinous crime. Although there is still no federal law protecting elders from abuse, all states have adopted laws specifically targeting elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation and many states have adopted clear criminal penalties for elder abuse.

If your business model has been to steer clear of involvement in domestic and healthcare issues, it’s time to reconsider:

  • Most states have statutes mandating reporting of suspected abuse. “Mandated Reporters” include financial, legal, healthcare, and other professionals and advisors, as well as Caregivers.
  • As a Mandated Reporter, you risk your license, your reputation, and your assets by not understanding the law and assisting clients who are in danger. If you participate in the abuse, you risk prosecution and imprisonment. (live link to Florida Statutes)

The Most Prevalent Types of Elder Abuse 5:

Elder Abuse is a broad description for any knowing, deliberate, or careless act that causes harm or serious risk of harm to an older person.

  • Caregiver/Family Neglect (58.5%): Failure to keep vulnerable adults safe and provide for their physical and emotional needs.
  • Physical Abuse (15.7%): Use of force to threaten or physically injure an elder
  • Emotional abuse (7.3%): Use of verbal attacks, threats, rejection, isolation, demeaning acts that cause mental anguish, physical and emotional decline
  • Financial Exploitation (12.3%): Theft, fraud, misuse or neglect of authority, and use of “undue influence” as a lever to gain control over an older person’s money or property.
  • Sexual (0.04%): Forced, tricked, threatened, or otherwise coerced sexual contact from elders or anyone who is unable to grant consent
  • Self-Neglect/Abandonment: (Included in “All Other Types” 5.2%): Abandonment: Desertion of a frail or vulnerable elder by anyone with a duty of care. Self-Neglect: an inability to understand the consequences of one’s own actions or inaction, which leads to, or may lead to, harm or endangerment.

Warning Signs for Families Professionals:

  • Trust your instincts. When I doubt, err on the side of caution. The signs of Elder Abuse run the gamut from the obvious to the almost invisible. If your instincts tell you something is wrong don’t wait for proof: call the victim’s family or a professional advocate to assess the situation. If your loved one or client is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately and remove the victim from the premises.
  • It’s important to remember that victims may be experiencing multiple types of abuse. While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, experience tells us which warning signs should mandate a call for help:

Warning Signs: Neglect – Self Neglect:

  • Victim appears to be receiving insufficient care and attention to wants and needs given their history and financial status.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are often indicators of neglect or, at the very least, an untrained, inadequate caregiver who should be immediately replaced.
  • Absence of necessities including food, water, heat, medicine, clothing
  • Poor grooming and appearance (soiled or ragged clothing, dirty nails and skin)
  • Inadequate living environment evidenced by lack of utilities, sufficient space, and
  • ventilation
  • Animal or insect infestations; hoarding animals, hoarding papers, trash
  • Signs of medication mismanagement, including empty or unmarked bottles or outdated prescriptions
  • Unsafe housing as a result of disrepair, faulty wiring, inadequate sanitation, substandard cleanliness, or architectural barriers

Warning Signs: Physical & Emotional Abuse:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns are cause for suspicion and investigation no matter how plausible the explanation.
  •  Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of physical and/or emotional abuse.
  • Behavior such as belittling, yelling, threats and other uses of power and control by spouses, children, or caregivers.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person may also be signs of abuse and exploitation.
  • Victim appears nervous or afraid of the person accompanying him
  • Victim is denied needed medical equipment and assistive devices: eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, commodes, walkers, wheelchair

Warning Signs: Financial Exploitation:  

  • Victim is not allowed to speak for himself or make decisions
  • Caregivers or family members who refuse to let you talk to your client or loved one unless they are present. Isolating the victim from those who care about him and can help is one of the first signs of exploitation and abuse
  • Sudden changes in financial habits (increase in number of checks or amounts of withdrawals, increase if number of checks written for even amounts, increase is charge account balances or debit card usage, or changes in bequests are often the result of financial exploitation.
  • Sudden increases in debt
  • Sudden change in address for financial documents
  • Sudden changes in banks, sudden transfers to other banks, sudden changes financial or legal advisors, beneficiaries, doctors, living arrangements, Power of Attorney, or Health Care Surrogates are often due to exploitation and abuse
  • Recently opened joint accounts
  • Signatures appear correct but amounts are written in different handwriting and/or different ink
  • Victim appears nervous or afraid of the person accompanying him or is accompanied by an acquaintance who appears too interested in his assets
  • Victim supplies questionable explanation or is confused about missing funds or money management, or is unable to remember financial transactions or sign paperwork

If you suspect elder abuse, collaboration is the key to protecting your client. When you see unexpected and unexplained changes in personality and behavior, call for professional assistance and evaluation. You do not have to prove abuse.

Remaining alert may help save your loved one or client from serious emotional or physical harm and from financial ruin.

1. Gregorie Trudy, “The Special Needs of Elder Abuse Victims,” www.ccvs.state.vt.us/pub_ed/special_needs.html, and National Center on Elder Abuse, American Public Human Services Association. September 1998. The National ElderAbuse Incidence Study 1996: Final Report Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and the Administration on Aging.

2. Washington, DC: National Center on Elder Abuse at American Public Human Services Association

3. (Wasik, John F. 2000. ‘The Fleecing of America’s Elderly,” Consumers Digest, March/April.)

4.  Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in an Aging America, 2003. Washing DC National Research Council Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect

5.  (Pillemer, Karl, and David Finkelhor. 1988. The Prevalence of Elder Abuse: A Random Sample Survey,’ The Gerontologist, 28: 51-57.)

10 Ways to Volunteer with Family Caregivers


This is a guest post by Heather Taylor. Taylor is a freelance writer, consultant and radio producer.  Since January 2011, she’s also happily served as a job coach in the AARP Foundation WorkSearch Program,  helping adults aged 50+ who are unemployed, underemployed or career-changers to find satisfying work.   You can follow her on twitter at @findingthejobs

10 Ways to Volunteer with Family Caregivers

Quick!  What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word November?  For lots of us, November means the Thanksgiving feast.  It’s also a month we associate with the sights, tastes and smells of delicious food and spending time with family and friends.  But there’s an “extra helping” of the Thanksgiving spirit that Suzanne Mintz would like us to consider.  And that’s in recognition of the more than 65 million unsung heroes of family life:  family caregivers.

Mintz is co-founder, President and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association,  a nonprofit that focuses on supporting family caregiving.  NFCA coordinates National Family Caregivers Month, “a time to offer thanks, support, education and empowerment to family caregivers.”

How can you get started volunteering to help family caregivers?  Mintz and the NFCA offer these 10 simple ways to do it:

  • 1. Offer a few hours of respite time to a family caregiver so they spend time with friends, or simply relax.
  • 2. Send a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten up a family caregiver’s day.
  • 3. Encourage local businesses to offer a free service for family caregivers through the month of November.
  • 4. Help a family caregiver decorate their home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for their holiday cards.
  • 5. Offer comic relief! Purchase tickets to a local comedy club, give a family caregiver your favorite funny movie to view, or provide them an amusing audio book to listen to while doing their caregiving activities.
  • 6. Find 12 different family photos and have a copy center create a monthly calendar that the family caregiver can use to keep track of appointments and events.
  • 7. Offer to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a caregiving family in your community, so they can just relax and enjoy the holiday.
  • 8. A United States postage stamp honoring the more than 50 million family caregivers in America is officially “under consideration” by the U.S. Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Sign the petition atwww.thefamilycaregiver.org and ask others to sign the petition letter.
  • 9. Help a family caregiver find information and resources on the internet or to locate a local support group.
  • 10. Ask your local elected official to issue a proclamation celebrating National Family Caregivers Month.

See original post at : AARP

35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents…a tool in assessing their needs


 

 Their answers will give you a clearer picture of how your parents are faring and will help you assess their needs.

Parents after 50 Years Together

Their Home

  1.  Is your home still appropriate for you now that you’re getting older?
  2. Can you manage the stairs, or would you do better on one level?
  3.  Does your home have any safety hazards?
  4. Could simple modifications to your home make it more convenient?
  5. Should you think about living somewhere else?

 

Their Activities

  1. Do you need help with household chores, such as cleaning, fixing meals or taking care of the yard?
  2. Does poor eyesight interfere with your daily activities?
  3. Can you always hear the telephone or a knock at the door?

Their Mobility

  1. Is driving difficult for you?
  2. Do you have reliable transportation for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends?

Their Health

  1. What health problems do you have?
  2. Are your prescriptions current?
  3. Have you been to your doctor lately?
  4. What has your doctor told you about your health?
  5. Has your doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of your medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions?
  6. Are you having any problems taking your medications?
  7. Could you use help remembering what pills to take and when?
  8. Can you pay for your medicines?

Their Health Care

  1. What kind of health insurance do you have, and do you have Medicare, Medicaid or a Medigap supplement policy?
  2. Has your insurance plan paid your health care bills?
  3. Do you have long-term care insurance or life insurance?
  4. Have you paid your insurance premiums?
  5. Would you like help with filling out forms, such as insurance claims?
  6. Have you been told that insurance won’t cover medical tests or procedures that your doctor has ordered?
  7. Do you have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid?

Their Finances

  1. What are your current and likely future bills?
  2. Can you pay for what you need?
  3. Do you need help getting government or pension benefits?
  4. Do you need help with financial planning to make your money last?
  5. Are your Social Security and pension checks deposited directly in the bank?
  6. Is all of your financial information in one place?
  7. Have you considered a reverse mortgage, which would provide extra income from the equity in your home?
  8. Have you considered that you might need money down the road to help pay for assistance with everyday activities?
  9. Do you have any bills you can’t pay?
  10. Do you have an estate plan and a will, as well as a living will and health care proxy?

Note: Finances can be a sensitive topic; you may want to be less direct with your questions.

Repost from: AARP

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