It’s not difficult to identify the physical abuse of an elderly family member when bruises or injuries are evident. But, emotional injuries are often masked and hidden. That makes it more unlikely that families will know that something is wrong.
Being more intentional and proactive about how you communicate with your family member may unearth subtle signs that something is amiss. Here are a few ideas.
Be Present in the Conversation
If possible, be in the same room when you are talking to the family member. Phone conversations are better than nothing, especially if you live far away. But face-to-face interaction provides substantially more information through body language. Does the person tense up when their caregiver is around? Do they talk with clenched fists or a tight jaw? These signs could indicate emotional unrest or a tenuous relationship with the caregiver.
Listen to Hear
It’s easy to dismiss the comments of the other person, especially if you become distracted during the conversation. If the senior says anything that might indicate abuse, you should take these comments very seriously.
Even something small could be a hint that the person is asking for help. For example, they might talk about their financial concerns or their worry about a missing checkbook. A seemingly simple comment could clue you in to an issue that is going on behind the scenes.
Invite Two-Way Conversations
You may be busy with kids, career, hobbies, and other activities. Naturally you will want to talk about the things that you are doing. Make sure that you invite the senior to participate in the conversation as well. If the person suddenly seems withdrawn or uncommunicative, take note. It could indicate that they are facing emotional abuse.
Do you have questions about preventing elder abuse? We are here to provide the resources that you need. Email info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org or call 858-480-7551. Senior Safe and Sound.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal advice.