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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / Safe From Harm / Editorial List

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Gary Barg

Safe From Harm

I know of no more dedicated people than the professional caregivers I have met over the past twenty years. In fact, when the news breaks about elder abuse, it is usually the professional caregivers who are first to email or write me with advice and tips for family caregivers. The insidious thing about elder abuse is that it can be committed by anyone with financial or physical access to our loved ones: friend, professional or family member. Unfortunately, there have been some high profile cases of abuse in the news recently, so here are some of the best advice I have seen:
Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.

Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.

Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.

Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.

Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.

Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.

Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

Who Do I Call If I Suspect Abuse?

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police for immediate help.

If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone. To report elder abuse, contact the Adult Protective Services (APS) agency in the state where the elder resides. You can find the APS reporting number for each state by visiting:

Whatever you do, being aware, partnering with those who care for your loved ones, and being diligent is the best medicine to prevent elder abuse from occurring on your watch.

Gary Barg

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