Recognizing elder abuse and how to prevent it

Nov 18, 2021, 11:02 AM | Updated: 2:07 pm

Elderly abuse and neglect can be hard to spot. But there are signs, and steps you can take to find a qualified caregiver.

An expert explains simple ways to keep your aging loved one safe.

Running a bagel business out of her home gives Cheryl Mignone the flexibility to help her mom. Nora is 76 and lives in New Jersey.

“A spitfire — until recently, when we had to get some help for her,” said Mignone, who lives in Kaysville.

Nora has dementia, so Mignone used an agency to find live-in care.

“They do vet them. They make sure there’s no criminal record, all these background checks that you can’t do or maybe just don’t want to do,” Mignone said.

“That’s smart,” said Nan Mendenhall with Utah’s Aging and Adult Services. “Be careful, because you’re asking someone to come in and take care of your loved one.”

According to the Utah Department of Human Services, emotional abuse and caretaker neglect topped the list of abuse cases in Utah last year. That was followed by self-neglect and physical injury.

To prevent abuse, experts say it’s important to know the warning signs, which include: weight loss, acting withdrawn and isolating themselves. Also, unexplained injuries, and inconsistent explanations about those wounds.

“Say, for instance, bedsores, that should have been prevented but they failed to do that,” Mendenhall said.

Experts advise to call and visit your aging loved one regularly. Immediately report concerns to staff or other authorities. Thoroughly research a potential nursing home or home care team. And you don’t have to do it alone.

“It’s OK to ask for help, you know, ‘Can I get home health services in to help care for them, so I don’t have to do it all by myself?’”

Mignone keeps a watchful eye from afar.

“I visit unexpectedly, I’m coming in on this day, and I come in two days early,” she said.

She says it’s not easy, but neither was she.

“I was not an easy kid,” Mignone said. “I was probably the worst of the bunch.”

It’s her way to give back to the mother who gave so much.

“An honor, to help my mom finish her life,” Mignone said.

If you suspect elder abuse or neglect, report it to Adult Protective Services. They also have programs to help support the caregivers.

For more information, visit:

· National Center on Elder Abuse

· National Institutes on Aging

· National Council on Aging

· The CDC maintains a list of ways to help prevent elder abuse.

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Recognizing elder abuse and how to prevent it