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5 signs your elderly parent could be a target for abuse

We expect people to treat seniors with compassion and respect, especially when they are struggling with declining health.

Unfortunately, not everyone looks at this vulnerable group with kindness and consideration. Too often, exploitative parties look at them and see easy targets for elderly abuse. Below are some signs that your aging parent could be this type of target, as well as suggestions for how to protect him or her.

  1. Your parent is isolated. If no one visits or regularly checks in on someone, it can be easier for that person to be mistreated without anyone knowing. Isolation also makes it easier for dishonest parties to get the elderly person to trust them.
  2. He or she suffers from memory loss or dementia. A person with dementia or memory loss often cannot report abuse. They might get confused, forget or they could suffer from an inability to communicate properly. 
  3. He or she has a reputation for generosity. If your parent is known for giving generous gifts, contributing to charitable causes or having unwavering support for loved ones, such kindness can attract people with corrupt intentions. 
  4. There are no legal protections in place. If no one is tasked with overseeing your parent's finances or being able to review medical records and treatments, it can be easier for others to manipulate and mistreat him or her. 
  5. Your parent is unfamiliar with technology. Your parent may be more likely to fall for scams if her or she is not comfortable using smartphones or computers. Phishing emails and spam callers can be especially effective on parties who are very trusting and unfamiliar with technology.

There are a few effective measures you can take to protect a parent vulnerable to abuse.

  1. Check in on them as often as you can, by phone or in person.
  2. Establish legal protections like powers of attorney or a guardianship.
  3. Talk to them about technology and common scams and be available to discuss any concerns or questions that may arise.

No matter what type of abuse an elderly person suffers, be it financial, physical or emotional, it can be devastating. Taking steps to identify and protect especially vulnerable parties can therefore be essential. 

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