The 1st Step in Caring for the Elderly | Prevent Elder Abuse
Recognizing elder abuse is not always as easy as people think. Most of us imagine the visible signs of abuse such as bruising, weight loss, or a diminished spirit. However in many of the cases we've seen over the years, elder abuse is invisible to the naked eye. This is because one of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial elder abuse.
It is easy for seemingly friendly family members, caretakers, or fellow church members to take advantage of a senior citizen. If you have an elderly loved one who requires care, or is in the hands of a daily caretaker, you must remain a regular diligence to prevent elder abuse.
If you are not able to check in on a beloved parent or grandparent on a regular basis, there are steps you can take to protect them from elder abuse. Sometimes, by the time elder abuse is discovered, it is difficult to take action, remedy the damage, or recoup stolen money that is vital for their day-to-day living costs.
5 Steps to Preventing Elder Abuse
- Run a Complete Background Check. Unfortunately, many agencies dedicated to taking care of the elderly do not run background checks on their caregivers. In a recent case of ours, the agency advertised that complete background checks were run on all employees. However, when our clients realized large sums of money were missing from their mother's bank account, they hired us to run a complete background check on the caregiver. Our background search revealed that the caretaker had a criminal history of fraudulent behavior. Yikes! Turns out the agency didn't run a background search after all. It is worth it to hire a private investigator and run your own complete background check on anyone who is caring for an elderly relative. Don't trust the agency's check. FYI: Predatory people will purposely attend churches, volunteer for senior citizen centers, and/or find other ways to target their next vulnerable victim. No matter how trustworthy and caring a person may seem, always run a background check. If they are as kind as they appear, they will understand completely and have no reservations. Running a background check can also scare potential predators away since they know they might be exposed or caught.
- Consider Obtaining a Power of Attorney. Often, financial elder abuse is blamed on the failing mental faculties of senior citizens. Even the most lucid senior citizens are susceptible to financial elder abuse. They may be lonely, form a bond with the abuser, and/or feel uncomfortable saying, "No" to requests for money. Once the financial abuse is suspected, it can be difficult to prove since children/grandchildren don't have the ability to monitor bank accounts and trusts for any suspicious activity. By obtaining a power of attorney (POA), or a limited conservatorship, elderly relatives still maintain their own rights, but a trusted family member, friend, or lawyer, can check in to make sure that nothing suspicious is taking place. If you don't have someone close that you trust, you can retain a reputable firm to manage your assets and take charge on your behalf. Again, It would be very beneficial to enlist the services of the best private investigator available to check this firm before you trust the. There are other methods of protecting our interests that experienced private investigators can discuss with you in a free consultation.
- Obtain a Restraining Order. Once family members are sure illegal activities are taking place, and have obtained a power of attorney and/or conservatorship, it may be necessary to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) before and during the legal proceedings. Often, a lonely relative may not see the behavior as abuse and family members must step in and take charge. There have been too many cases where a "Friend" stops by on a daily basis, or tells the elderly person to, "call whenever you need anything..." and then charges money for each visit, or any service they perform while they are "visiting." These "charges" can add up quickly. Without a POA or a TRO, it can be difficult to prevent this type of abuse. Don't be fooled, even with a restraining order in place, predatory elder abusers will not always give up so easy, and if they know their pot of gold will be taken away in the next few days or weeks, they may become desperate and doubly aggressive in order to get whatever they can before they climb back under their rock or move on to their other victims. Having the restraining order or other legal document in place will allow the concerned loved ones to have the power to enforce their demands and keep the bad guys away.
- Professional Surveillance Services. It may be necessary to hire a private investigator to run surveillance services. Surveillance services can verify who comes and goes from the home, or room, of the elder(s) in question. Perhaps the "caregiver" is accompanying their victims to meals at restaurants or shopping trips in which the "caregiver" becomes a beneficiary. A private investigator can also use surveillance services in the form of video surveillance to monitor the verbal and physical interactions between your relative and their caretaker and/or friend while inside the home, care facility, or car. This can help to procure evidence to show to family, an attorney or the police should legal action be necessary.
- Hire a Private Investigator. An experienced private investigator will be able to listen to your particular situation and make professional recommendations regarding the investigative services your case requires. You may require one or more services. We also have references to the best attorneys and psychologists in the field should you need legal representation or further help assessing your situation.
One of the most damaging things family or other loved ones do is wait, procrastinate, look the other way or ignore the obvious facts. Can you imagine what is going on right under our noses? By acting swiftly and in the right direction you can keep this from spinning out of control. You can maintain or regain ones quality of life. If you think it will be too expensive to act, make some free phone calls and get answers to your questions. If no one appreciates this now, don't worry, your good deeds will not go un-noticed.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is incredibly common. The National Center on Elderly Abuse states only about 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is ever officially reported to the authorities. If you suspect an elderly relative or loved one is being abused, here are some additional signs of major types of elderly abuse you can watch out for. The best way to stop elder abuse is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Mike Garroutte is a Newport Beach private investigator. He works as a licensed private investigator in Los Angeles and Orange County as well. If you feel elder abuse is taking place in the southern california area, our company Linked Investigations can help. Contact Us at 1-877-464-5374 if you need assistance.