Elder abuse is a topic I’ve discussed many times on webinars, phone conferences, in coaching sessions, while teaching in classrooms and when sitting with real estate clients and their family members. Simply put, it affects all of us and like all other social and health problems plaguing our society, it’s much better to be proactive than reactive. With that in mind, today is all about practical things both you and your family members can do to prevent elder abuse.
GET THE WORD OUT
Education is the silver bullet in the fight to prevent elder abuse. Gather as much credible information as possible and communicate with your aging loved ones and any professionals with whom they interact. You might be asking, “why educate the professionals? Don’t they already understand?” Well it’s good for multiple reasons. First, elder abuse may not be part of their every day work concerns or training. Therefore, the professional is ill equipped to effectively recognize when it’s happening. They need and will appreciate the help. Second, it puts on notice any professional who may have had less than pure motives, that you are informed and watching.
BEWARE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Alcohol and prescription drug abuse are more and more common among the elderly. Sometimes an addictive personality is the problem, but more often than not our loved ones are getting addicted to over prescribed drugs for legitimate health issues. This is so dangerous and can cause many internal issues that are hard to see until it’s too late. Also, because the drugs affect cognitive judgment, he or she becomes more vulnerable to other forms of abuse such as financial abuse.
JOIN SUPPORT GROUPS
Did you know that there are probably a dozen support groups in driving distance for aging adults and their families? I’m not kidding; they’re out there. A support group is a great place to get information and make friends who will go out of their way to be available to you and your loved one. Having a sense of community will be of great comfort when the challenges of aging come.
Social isolation leads to depression and poor decisions. Your loved one will become more vulnerable to scams and may even let abusers into their lives purely out of boredom and loneliness. Keep your aging loved one connected with friends and family. Get them out of the house and engaged with physical activity and hobbies.
KEEP PERSONAL INFORMATION PRIVATE
The aging population is a target for all sorts of identity theft. I’ve literally stopped a house from being stolen right out from under a client’s nose. It’s terrible. Be sure your loved ones are protecting their identity in a every way possible. Here are a few good tips.
- Have them freeze their credit. It’s easy to do and prevents anyone from using their social security number to open new accounts.
- Sign them up for an identity theft protection service such as Life-lock that will alert them when there is a breach.
- Have them post and open their own mail or allow only you to do it for them.
- Warn them against ever giving their personal information over the phone. Criminals have gotten very clever and will be persuasive.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Help your loved ones plan for the future. With a power of attorney or a living will, you both can address health care decisions to avoid confusion and family problems later. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before having them sign any documents.
DON’T LET JUST ANYONE IN THE DOOR
Carefully interview anyone who might be given access to your loved ones home such as a part-time healthcare worker. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals before any hiring decision is made. Finally, feel free to drop in unannounced to get a more authentic view of what happens on a daily basis.
Now, if you are a Real Estate professional in this space or you’d just like to work with the above 50 market in any capacity, I’ve got great news. I will be teaching a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation course coming in March 2018 so save the date and reach out to me at toni(at)tonipatillo(dotted)com for updates.