Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Tips to Prevent Elder Abuse in Honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Sat, Jun 08, 2019


Did you know that elder abuse impacts millions of Americans every year, and millions more across the globe? It is a reprehensible problem, and one that is not likely to go away anytime soon. Especially as our senior populations continue to grow both in Massachusetts and across the United States, and as life-expectancy rates increase, incidents of elder abuse can only be expected to rise.

One of the best ways to fight the growing epidemic, is to educate the public about the reality of elder abuse together with the risk factors and causes, and ways to prevent it. This is exactly what business like ours, governments, human rights organizations and many professionals are doing in association with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th.

In honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, let us share a list of tips with you to help prevent elder abuse from harming a loved one in your life right here in our blog:

 Educate senior members about elder abuse and make sure they know to report it immediately.

 If an aging loved one suffers from dementia or is unable to speak up for themselves, then actively pay close attention to signs of abuse and neglect.

  • Keep senior family members engaged in community activities and social groups. This can decrease isolation, and reduce their vulnerability to abuse.
  • Make sure an elder family member has a phone, or a way to communicate promptly.
  • Older Americans should not give out personal information on the internet or over the phone.
  • Obtaining a durable power of attorney allows for a trusted person, like an adult child, to make important decisions on the elder person’s behalf even when they are ill.
  • Know your rights. If an aging loved one lives in a nursing home, he or she has every right to contact a Long Term Care Ombudsman. The ombudsman is the advocate and has the power to intervene.

If you suspect an elder loved one is the victim of abuse, which includes physical, emotional, and sexual harm, in addition to neglect and financial exploitation, do not wait to report it. You can click this link to learn how to report abuse in Massachusetts. We can only stop the epidemic of elder abuse by making an effort together to stop it. Do not wait to contact us with your questions on this or any elder care issues.

To learn more about Elder Law, Estate Planning and elder care issues attend one of our free discovery sessions. 

Tags: Elder Law, elder care journey, elder care, elder abuse

Understanding the Correlation Between Dementia and Elder Abuse

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Apr 09, 2019

P42.Sullivan.Blog.April1Nearly every American family has been touched in some way by dementia, especially in its most common form of Alzheimer’s Disease. It cuts across every social and economic demographic, and currently affects more than five million Americans. What you may not know, however, is that dementia is also the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and has no known cure.

Unfortunately, recent research has revealed that there is an unsettling correlation between dementia and elder abuse. Elder abuse is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.'' It can include physical, emotional, or sexual harm, along with neglect and financial exploitation.

Similar to other types of abuse, victims may become confused, terrified and even embarrassed of the crime perpetrated against them. Seniors especially may often fear retaliation, either in the form of physical abuse, neglect, or isolation. This may cause them to attempt to keep their abusers from getting in trouble, which can be a particular problem when family members behave abusively.

Reports now show that there is an increased correlation between dementia and elder abuse. A few of the reasons why are that seniors with dementia are vulnerable because of impaired memory, communication skills, and judgment. They are also less likely to report abuse, and might not even be aware that abuse is happening. According to the University of California, Irvine Center on Elder Abuse and Neglect, nearly one in two aging adults with dementia has experienced some type of abuse.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to stop this cycle. It is important to know what to be on the lookout for when it comes to your loved ones. Let us present a few of the steps we share with our friends, family, and community on this critical topic.

 1. Know Your Rights. Every state has resources to help stop elder abuse and our state is no exception. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website, “ Elder Abuse reports can be filed 24 hours a day either online or by phone at (800) 922-2275”. We encourage you to learn more on this website or ask us for more information, especially if you are concerned that an elder loved one with dementia is suffering from abuse.

2. Recognize the Warning Signs. Unexplained injuries, bedsores, malnutrition, and dehydration are just a few of the telltale signs. Others may include suspicious caregiver behavior, and sudden adverse changes to an older person’s financial resources.

 3. Report, Report, Report. One of the most effective ways to combat elder abuse is to report it to agencies and authorities who can do something about it. Studies routinely show that elder abuse is chronically under-reported. Again, check out the website we referenced above for more information.

4. Durable Power of Attorney. A durable power of attorney creates the legal authority for a trusted family member or confidant to act on a senior’s behalf, it can even work when the senior is unable to make his or her decisions. This legal document needs to be obtained proactively and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you craft one that is right for your specific situation.

 We encourage you to ask us your questions. Whether you are concerned about how to manage a dementia diagnosis or are worried about the potential of elder abuse in the future, we want to help answer your questions. For more information on protecting yourself or a family member, attend a free, informational seminar. 

Tags: Elder Law, durable power of attorney, elder care, incapacity, elder abuse

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