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Spotting the subtle signs of elder abuse by a caregiver

The stress that caregivers experience has been well-documented. Often, people are placed in a position where they're caring for elderly parents while also raising their own children. Sometimes, an elderly person has to take care of an ill or disabled spouse. It can be overwhelming. Caregivers often feel like they have no lives of their own.

If people have the resources, they can hire a professional caregiver to help out with an elderly, ill and/or disabled family member. However, that doesn't guarantee that a person won't be abused.

Sometimes physical and emotional abuse stems from caregiver stress. Other times, it comes from a need for control. With financial abuse, it may be simple greed or a feeling that they "deserve" the person's money in exchange for their hard work and sacrifice.

If you have an elderly loved one in your life who's being cared for by others, even trusted family members, it's essential to recognize the signs of elder abuse. They may not be as obvious as bruises or broken bones (although those are often blamed on falls and other "mishaps" by the perpetrator) or obvious lack of care.

Sometimes, a person's isolation is a sign that he or she is being abused by a caregiver. If a person can never come to the phone, isn't available to visit when friends or family come over or rarely goes outside, even to sit on the porch, there may be cause for suspicion.

Sometimes people will allude to a caregiver's temper. That can be a cry for help, even if it's a subconscious one.

Often, abusive caregivers never let their charges out of their sight — even when there's someone else there to look after them. However, it's important, even if you can't get the suspected victim alone, to let him or her know that you're willing to help.

Elder abuse can also manifest as financial abuse. Caregivers may manipulate people into giving them money or valuables. They may even try to coerce them into changing their wills, trusts or other items in their estate plans.

Missouri attorneys who have experience working with elderly people and their families on estate plans can help ensure that a person's assets are protected from theft, mismanagement and manipulation. They can help you rest assured that you or your loved one's hard-earned money and property will be protected and disbursed as intended.

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