This week is Elder Abuse Awareness Week around the world, and RetirementHomes.com is producing a series of articles to help educate the general public about this form of abuse.
Yesterday, RetirementHomes.com published an article about the top warning signs of elder abuse that loved ones can watch out for. But before that happens, are there ways to prevent, or at least reduce the odds of elder abuse happening to yourself, or to a family member?
Steven Horen, founder and CEO of Koved Care LLC, a home healthcare agency based in New York City, told RetirementHomes.com that caregivers and care aides are the likeliest perpetrators when it comes to physical and sexual abuse against seniors, and that knowledge can help people avoid caregivers who may be at a higher risk of committing elder abuse.
According to Horen, many people who may find the cost of homecare unaffordable are likely to hire caregivers off the books, but that comes with added risk.
“The vast majority of physical abuse and theft happens when people hire privately, not through an agency, and when they do not do thorough due diligence on the people that they are hiring,” Horen said. “When you hire through a reputable agency, you have a much higher level of confidence that appropriate background checks have been done and ongoing objective oversight of the staff.”
Still, if a retirement community or in-home care is not an option for your parent or loved one, and hiring privately is the only alternative, you can still perform background checks with local municipal and state or provincial authorities to determine if the caregiver candidate has anything in their history that would be concerning, including potential convictions for assault.
Once a family member has suspicions about an elderly loved one, and whether they may be a victim of elder abuse, vigilance is the first step, according to Brad Robinson, a former CIA agent and Senior Partner of The Millennium Group, a private investigations firm based in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“In our experience, the allegations of elder abuse, nine times out of ten, turn out to be justified, and only in ten per cent of cases are the allegations either proven to be false or inconclusive,” Robinson told RetirementHomes.com. “And proving the negative is hard…some cases were cancelled for financial or other reasons, and I think some percentage of that ten per cent would have borne fruit” with more time to investigate, he said.
So if it’s time for your parent or loved one to find an in-home caregiver, or a senior living community, start by asking for referrals, and then doing your homework on the person – or place – that you are considering.