A Chinese proverb well defines the position of elders in the society and in our life. 'To mock your elders is to wreck the house where you have to stay tonight'. Elderly people in every culture have been treated as God's presence in the house. I remember my grandmother being the strength of the house when we used to feel dejected. She used to instill hopes, smiles and yes her stories were something which we relished in our childhood. Whenever there were any problems she boosted the whole family's self-confidence and encouraged us to fight through our problems. Her composed outlook provided us relief from all our tensions and worries.
Blessed are those homes which have elderly people who act as mentors. Even though we understand the value and importance of elders in our society still some neglect their duties and responsibilities towards them. The treatment meted out to the elderly is worse and serves as a far outcry from human nature. All of us were taught the value of compassion, humility and love then why do we encourage elder abuse and ignore the fact that it's a crime to trouble those who have been like our guardian angels. It's important that elderly people are able to live in peace and dignity and it's our moral and social responsibility to provide it. As more and more elderly people are staying in Senior Homes it's important to watch out for signs of elder abuse and report it to the police.
Ways to Prevent Elder Abuse
- If your elders are staying at a care facility then find all the details about that organization. Like who is in charge, history of caregivers, asking other elders who are staying there.
- Elders are vulnerable to financial scams. So watch out for any scams by alerting your elders to regularly check their bank statements, check their check books and reconcile it every month. Also if there is any withdrawal ask your elder to call the bank personnel and clarify his/her doubts.
- Whenever you have spare time or you have holidays, do make it a point to visit them. In this way they will not feel neglected and will be able to confide in you any problems that they are facing.
- If the elder person is on a medication do check for the prescriptions and also the date on the medicine. Also check if the elder person is being given medicine on time.
- Inform the elder never to keep any expensive item with them. Opening a bank locker for jewelry and other expensive items is always recommended.
- It's always recommended to inform your elders to not trust any stranger who calls them with some schemes to increase your bank balance. Also it's important for the elder to avoid fraudulent charities and medications rendered to them as easy cures.
- Do inform your elder to read every document carefully and then sign it. Also if the elder can't understand the legal document then advise him/her to contact an attorney for consultation. Even if a power of attorney is required for certain financial transactions then do appoint a trusted attorney who should explain all the legal terms in the document.
- Make sure that the elder is not in depression or is suffering through any other issues. If some odd behavioral changes such as being withdrawn, unexplained bruises, excessive needle marks or increased isolation is noticed by you, immediately call Adult Protective services.
- Encourage your elders to meet other people and make friends. Take them to such community centers which will keep them busy and active as well as decrease the probability of suffering from abuse.
- If any changes in the bank account, unexplained transfer of assets or sudden changes in legal documents are noticed, do advise the elder to report it to the police.
- Also keep alerting the elder to never part with their social security number or credit card or ATM pin. Any unused credit card or ATM card should be disposed off properly.
- Do remember to listen to your elders. Frequent calling and taking them for a holiday will make them happy and secure. Also do ask them about the care given to them by their caregivers if elders are staying in a care facility.
- Even if the elder is living all alone or in a facility it's necessary that you visit him/her and inquire about their well-being.
As some say that in old age people become like children and even though sometimes you might feel they are overreacting try not to show any negative emotions. Caring for an elder should not involve anger, stress or frustration but with the help of family and friends it should work out to be a happy memory. After all our elders have loved, nurtured and educated us, it's time we give them their rightful place. Elders are like pearls of wisdom, you should not neglect them but respect them.