How to Help

How you can help prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation

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Ways You Can Help

  • Form a Home Improvement Alliance within your organization or congregation to repair homes of the elderly and disabled adults. Services could include yard work; minor electrical, plumbing and carpentry repairs; building ramps; housepainting and roof repair.
  • Assist elders with pet care - taking pets to the vet, exercising dogs, helping with grooming and medications, etc.
  • Deliver Meals on Wheels.
  • Provide transportation.
  • Call your local Area Agency on Aging to inquire about specific volunteer needs, which could include money management, guardianship, and Office of Consumer Affairs volunteer opportunities.
  • Organize a "Caregivers" group through your church.
  • Relieve a caregiver by sitting with their ill loved one; this helps the elder as well as the caregiver who may desperately need a break.
  • Get to know your elderly neighbor, become personally involved and include them in your family activities.
  • Join groups such as Gray Panthers or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
  • Collect holiday and birthday gifts for the elderly and disabled adults in your community.
  • Recruit organizations and businesses to donate their resources to help the elderly and disabled who are in need of assistance.
  • Develop local Adult Protective Services Multi-Disciplinary Teams or participate in an existing project in your community that supports older and disabled adults.
  • Donate blankets, non-perishable food items, pet food, and household items to your local APS Resource Room
  • Help create a Resource Room or food pantry if one is not available in your area.
  • Call your local DFPS office and request information on the programs that benefit vulnerable adults in your area. Ask to speak with a Community Initiatives Specialist to find out how you can help.

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Preventing Exploitation Through Money Management

An estimated 500,000 older people in the United States need help with their financial affairs. As a result, a new field called daily money managers is evolving to provide money management services. Daily money managers organize and keep track of financial and medical insurance records; establish a budget; help with check writing and checkbook balancing; and administer the benefits of people who can't manage their own financial affairs. Daily money managers typically charge $25 to $100 an hour. While it is difficult to generalize the total cost, many clients require only a few hours of services each month. Some local governments and community organizations also offer reduced-fee or free services for low-income clients.

Do You Know An Elder Who Needs a Daily Money Manager?

With the elder's help or permission, review his or her checkbook, bank statements, and canceled checks. Look for things such as payments for medical bills that already have been paid; numerous payments to credit card companies, home shopping networks, sweepstakes or other contests; unusually large charitable donations; failure to track deposits or expenditures; lost checkbooks or bank statements; numerous transfers from savings to checking accounts; or consistent or unusual payments to a questionable recipient.

Review bills and correspondence and watch for letters from creditors or past-due notices. The review may indicate that a daily money manager is needed. If your review gives you reason to believe that a caregiver, family member, or friend is improperly using the elder's resources for their own benefit, report the situation to Adult Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. If you and the elder decide that a daily money manager would be helpful, interview several candidates. Get references and talk with their clients. Contact the local Better Business Bureau, chamber of commerce, local consumer protection agency, or area agency on aging. Ask if they have any complaints on file, but be aware that no complaints doesn't necessarily mean they have no previous problems. Ask them for their company's financial statement.

For More Information

The Eldercare Locator
This nationwide, toll-free assistance directory sponsored by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging will refer you to the area agency on aging nearest to your parent or other older adult. 1-800- 677-1116.

American Association of Daily Money Managers
P.O. Box 755 Silver Spring, MD 20918
The association can provide names of daily money managers in an older person's community or nearby.

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Know the Possible Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation

The following descriptions are not necessarily proof of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. But they may be clues that a problem exists, and that a report needs to be made to law enforcement or Adult Protective Services.

Physical Signs

  • Injury that has not been cared for properly
  • Injury that is inconsistent with explanation for its cause
  • Pain from touching
  • Cuts, puncture wounds, burns, bruises, welts
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause
  • Poor coloration
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks
  • Inappropriate administration of medication
  • Soiled clothing or bed
  • Frequent use of hospital or health care/doctor-shopping
  • Lack of necessities such as food, water, or utilities
  • Lack of personal effects, pleasant living environment, personal items
  • Forced isolation

Behavioral Signs

  • Fear
  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Anger
  • Isolation, withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Non-responsiveness, resignation, ambivalence
  • Contradictory statements, implausible stories
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Confusion or disorientation

Signs by Caregiver

  • Prevents elder from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward elder
  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence
  • Lack of affection toward elder
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationship
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents
  • Withholds affection
  • Talks of elder as a burden

Signs of Financial Abuse

  • Frequent expensive gifts from elder to caregiver
  • Elder's personal belongings, papers, credit cards missing
  • Numerous unpaid bills
  • A recent will when elder seems incapable of writing will
  • Caregiver's name added to bank account
  • Elder unaware of monthly income
  • Elder signs on loan
  • Frequent checks made out to "cash"
  • Unusual activity in bank account
  • Irregularities on tax return
  • Elder unaware of reason for appointment with banker or attorney
  • Caregiver's refusal to spend money on elder
  • Signatures on checks or legal documents that do not resemble elder's

Learn more about reporting suspected abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of Adults.

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