Be There and Be Aware This Holiday Season

For many families, the holidays actually DO mean a trip to grandmother’s house, as celebrated in the traditional song.  Whether the trip is to Grandma’s or to another elderly family member or friend, Tri-County Office on Aging wants to remind travelers their visit is also an opportunity to watch for signs of elder abuse or financial exploitation.

Often what may seem like a side effect of aging may actually signal a very different problem.  Because abuse takes many forms, there can be many different indicators.  Physical signs may include poor hygiene, malnutrition, unusual bruising or other injuries.  Emotional signs could appear as withdrawal from normal activities or behavioral changes.  Signs of financial exploitation may include a lack of food or medicine, missing property or sudden changes in bank accounts.

Each year, 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation.  Yet, that is only part of the picture. Experts believe for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23 cases go unreported.  That is why it’s so important for families and friends to watch for signs of abuse with their loved ones.

Victims are often hesitant to report abuse or exploitation by a caregiver because they are concerned about what may happen if they lose that caregiver. They may be afraid that no other caregiver could be found or they may be placed in a nursing home.  That is why it is often family or friends who become suspicious and report potential abuse.

If a holiday visit finds your loved one in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.  Anonymous reports in Michigan may also be made to DHS – Adult Protective Services by calling 1-855-444-3911.