The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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Editorials

August 22, 2013

Elder abuse

Troubling was a word used this week to describe the state of elder abuse occurring in the rapidly aging state of West Virginia.

That’s putting it mildly, in our opinion.

It is downright sad and sickening to read recent stories of abuse of helpless seniors.

And it happens in many ways.

Supposed “caretakers” are robbing seniors of their monthly benefits, at times abusing them physically and mentally.

How in the world can this type of abuse, this exploitation, take place?

When no one is holding that caretaker accountable, apparently.

That is a real shame. Getting involved “in other’s people’s business” may not seem comfortable, but alerting authorities to suspected abuse could very well save a precious senior from a nightmarish existence.

We’re also finding that physical abuse is prevalent. In preventing this scenario for our seniors, we should recognize the warning signs:

— Unexplained signs of injury such as bruises, welts or scars, especially if they appear symmetrically on two sides of the body

— Broken bones, sprains or dislocations

— Report of drug overdose or apparent failure to take medication regularly (a prescription has more remaining than it should)

— Broken eyeglasses or frames

— Signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists

— Caregiver’s refusal to allow you to see the elder alone

Not all abuse is from physical contact. Some of it stems from neglect. Its warning signs are:

— Unusual weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration

— Untreated physical problems, such as bed sores

— Unsanitary living conditions: dirt, bugs, soiled bedding and clothes

— Being left dirty or unbathed

— Unsuitable clothing or covering for the weather

— Unsafe living conditions (no heat or running water, faulty electrical wiring, other fire hazards)

— Desertion of the elder at a public place

Other severely troubling types of abuse are sexual and emotional.

We must do all we can to protect our elderly of this generation.

And we must do our best to prepare for the care of our elders in the generations to come.

Having a plan for care will go a long way to assuring that a family member will receive the proper health care, nutrition and support needed to live out their golden years in peace and tranquility, knowing that they’re still valued members of society.

If staying with family is not an option, investigating one’s care home options and selecting a quality location well before it is needed will give everyone peace of mind.

 

To learn more on elder abuse, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse web-site at www.ncea.aoa.gov.

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