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How you can keep your parents safe and prevent elder abuse

Older adults with significant health and personal care needs rely on others to help them do a number of things, from bathing and eating to paying bills and taking medication. If your parent is in this vulnerable position, you want to ensure that others who are there to help them do what you expect.

For example, you can take the following steps to protect them from negligent, abusive parties.

  • Talk to them about their plans for long-term care. Your parents may have already made plans for receiving long-term care. They may already know the facility or have money earmarked for their care. If they have done the research and set aside the funds, finding quality care can be easier for you. As such, you should talk about whether they have such plans, including their wishes for powers of attorney and guardianship.
  • Conduct the research. Whether your parent receives in-home care or care at a nursing home, there are many resources to help you assess their capabilities. This AARP article provides some helpful tips for finding caregivers.
  • Stay in touch as much as you can. Patients in care facilities can be more vulnerable to abuse and neglect if they don't have friends or family close. Calling, visiting and talking to care providers to stay informed on your parent's safety and condition can make it less likely for abuse to go unnoticed.
  • Trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about a care provider or something seems off when you visit your parent, trust what your gut is telling you. You may not make accusations immediately or file a complaint right away, but you can address your concerns by calling out suspicious behavior or choosing another facility. 

Preventing elder abuse in the first place can be vital in keeping your parents safe. Too often, loved ones do not learn about abuse or neglect of a parent until it is too late. By taking these steps, you can take good care of your parents even when you cannot care for them yourself.

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