Signs of Elder Abuse
How Will I Know When My Parent Needs Legal Protection?
Your loved one might be at a heightened risk for falling victim to elder abuse if he or she is dependent on a caregiver or facility, has failing health or cognition, is easily confused, or often lonely. Most victims know their abuser, so remain familiar with the people interacting with your loved one.
The most apparent signs of physical abuse are bruises, scratches, cuts, or burns that your loved one cannot explain. There are many other red flags, however, that may evidence that your loved one is in danger of being abused:
- If someone moves into the elderly individuals home shortly after meeting them, this may be a sign of ill-intentioned motives.
- Your loved one may appear nervous, or become particularly nervous around a specific individual.
- Your loved one may exhibit increased anxiety that may manifest in new habits like biting their nails or fidgeting more than they have in the past.
- The potential abuser may often try to speak on behalf of your loved one, or your loved one may look to the abuser before answering or speaking to you.
- Your loved quickly loses their independence: they will not go in public as much; they have little or no access to a telephone; or they may speak less often about friends and family.
Financial abuse can be more difficult to identify because your loved one may not be aware of the abuse and may not exhibit any physical signs, so following your gut instinct is important. You can also look for the following signs.
- In some cases your loved one's hygiene may decline and their general appearance may deteriorate.
- When asked about particular expenses, the elderly individual will not have an explanation.
- Pay particular attention to whether your loved one is irrationally afraid of being evicted or foreclosed upon. Predators will create this fear in your loved one and then convince your loved one to pay them an exorbitant amount for "protection."
- They fire a long time advisor and hire someone brand new whom they have never worked with before.
- They transfer large sums of money to new advisor.
Signs that a Guardianship or Conservatorship is needed
Most of us will struggle to some degree with caring for our physical or financial well-being as we age. Often it is difficult to identify when those struggles cross the line into needing the additional assistance of a guardian or conservator. The following signs can assist in determining when you should contact an elder law attorney:
- Physical Danger: The stove is left on, stairs are difficult to manage, or the individual forgets to take or mixes up medications;
- Mental Health Issues: Dementia, Alzheimer's, or similar cognitive struggles;
- Financial Insecurity: Unable to write checks, does not understand common billing invoices, cannot recall spending money, or begins offering money unnecessarily, hires unneeded and redundant advisors.
If you believe a loved one is unable to complete the daily tasks necessary to care for him or herself, or that they are financially vulnerable, your loved one may require the protection of a guardian or conservator.
Navigating Your Parent's Incapacity
It is a difficult process to evaluate and determine which legal steps, protections, and documents are necessary for you to have the ability and authority to care for your loved one.
Additionally, what you are allowed to do on their behalf is often unclear and inconsistent. Health care providers and banks can be difficult to communicate with, sometimes they'll allow you to speak for your parents, but other times they won't.
You have more questions than answers. We understand these issues and stand ready to assist you and your family through the questions of incapacity and care.
There are steps we can take to ensure that you have full legal authority to care for your parent and help them through this difficult period of life.