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What to do if...?

I’m a family caregiver for an older adult or adult with a disability. I need help … what resources are available?

Being a caregiver is a big responsibility with many rewards and challenges. It is very important for caregivers to reach out for support, to educate themselves on the health demands of the care recipient, and to stay connected to others who understand caregiving.

Caregivers may find help through Caregiver Education and training, working with a caregiver consultant, finding a caregiver support group, or accessing many other supports such as meal-delivery programs.

Contact the Senior Linkage Line at 1800-333-2433 or visit the Caregiver page of MinnesotaHelp website for specific resources in your area.

I’m worried about my elderly neighbor, but I’m not sure if what’s happening is abuse. How do I find out?

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police for immediate help. If you believe that what you are seeing are patterns of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you should call and discuss the suspicious situation with Adult Protective Services, a Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or Law Enforcement. They will ask what you saw/heard/otherwise observed, who was involved, and who they can contact to learn more.

It’s important to remain alert. The suffering of abuse is often borne in silence. Victims are often scared to tell anyone. If you notice changes in personality, behavior, or physical condition, you should start to question what is going on. It is important to know that you do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate the suspicions.

Visit the HOW TO REPORT page for a detailed explanation of how to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

My mother is making some bad financial decisions. I’m afraid that she is at risk of being financially exploited. I think she might have Alzheimer’s disease. Are there any resources to help?

It is important that you learn more about your mother’s potential condition. People with cognitive impairment or dementia are at much greater risk for all kinds of abuse than those who do not have these conditions. Not every bad decision is a sign of dementia, but it is wise to look into both physical and psychological causes if someone you know is starting to behave in new ways, or is making choices about finances that are different from past choices. It is important to plan ahead for possible dementia.

It is best if you can take her to see a geriatrician, a neurologist, or a psychologist with a background in treating elderly people. This professional will run a battery of tests related to memory, judgment, and cognition. This will help you and your mother understand what her situation is and to begin to plan for future care needs.

People keep telling me that I need a lawyer to sort out some financial issues, and maybe even exploitation. Where should I start?

Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation cases often involve legal issues. Victims of exploitation may face a variety of problems with their home or other property, debts, tax implications, and threats to their public benefits such as Medical Assistance. A victim may also want to try and recover money that has been wrongfully taken or misspent.

Elder law attorneys and other attorneys who specialize in consumer, real-estate, or general practice may also provide civil legal services. An elder law attorney can provide legal planning services (such as estate and probate planning) that may help prevent future issues from arising in the first place.

If the elder has been a victim of a crime that law enforcement and/or adult protection is investigating, the case may be referred to the local county attorney for prosecution.

My sister is not providing the proper care I would like to see for my mother.

If you are worried that your sister is not providing the care your mother needs, it is a good idea to look into the situation. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation so that you are able to distinguish differences of opinion in care from inappropriate or harmful behaviors. Try to talk candidly with your sister and your mother about your concerns. If your sister will not let you see your mother, she could be isolating her, which would be another warning sign.

Sometimes abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurs because caregivers are not trained to provide adequate care or don’t know where to turn for assistance. Other times, it occurs because family members misuse the senior’s funds on themselves or because family members refuse to spend the senior’s funds on his or her care. There may be many issues the caregiver is dealing with that makes her more susceptible to abusing, neglecting, or exploiting the elder, even someone she loves.

The important thing is not to ignore your concerns. If you are still worried after trying to talk about your concerns, you should contact the Adult Protective Services agency where your mother lives.

Visit the HOW TO REPORT page for a detailed explanation of how to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

I suspect that my mother is being abused or neglected by my brother. Who can help?

There are several programs that can help you. First, if you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police for immediate help. See the hand out entitled: HOW TO REPORT for a detailed explanation of reporting.

My Dad is in specialized senior housing, and I don’t think he’s getting the care he needs. What can I do?

There are many different types of institutional settings where older adults live and receive care. From nursing homes to senior neighborhoods, consumers looking
In Minnesota the term housing with services applies to a variety of housing options people generally refer to as assisted living.

To learn more about the quality of the nursing home you are interested in, visit Nursing Home Compare, a tool designed to provide detailed information about Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the country. This will help you understand more about the overall environment of the nursing home, as assessed by the licensing agency.

Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are the professionals who advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities and help to resolve complaints about issues of care. They are dedicated to enhancing the lives of long-term care residents through advocacy, education, and resolving resident complaints. The Ombudsman will help you understand the situation, and if a formal complaint is warranted, they can advise you and your father on how and with whom you would file the complaint.

My aunt was a victim of elder abuse. How can I help her deal with the effects of abuse? She is very depressed and withdrawn.

Many victims of elder abuse believe that they are at fault for the abuse. This is common in victims of other kinds of abuse, too (child abuse or domestic violence). Victims feel ashamed and embarrassed. Often they have been warned by the abuser not to reveal the abuse to others, so they are fearful. The majority of elder abuse is perpetrated by family members or trusted others, so victims feel conflicted about seeking help because they don’t want to get family members in trouble with the law, even though they want the abuse to stop.

It is important that victims understand that they are not to blame. Victims should also understand that they are not the only ones experiencing abuse. Hundreds of thousands of elders are abused, neglected and exploited every year in America. Finally, you and your aunt needs to know that many people care and that help is available.

The typical types of help victims seek are mental health and counseling services, medical services/home health services, legal services, domestic violence programs, and social service supports, such as case management, transportation, or home delivered meals. The ultimate goal of the services are to increase the senior’s ability to live independently in the home as long as possible, to reduce their dependence on one caregiver, and to reduce the likelihood of abuse, neglect, or exploitation reoccurring.

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