I am married with one child. I have been a resident of New Berlin for 8 years. I enjoy the New Berlin community and I am proud to be a part of it. I love arts and crafts, painting, beading, coupon clipping, cooking and writing.
Some have called elder abuse "the crime of the century.” We hear about the exploitation of the elderly every day. It affects them in many ways–financially, physically, and emotionally. It can be while in the care of a nursing home or retirement home, or even the privacy of their own homes. It is a shame, yet it’s a reality and now, I can personally attest to this as I recently witnessed it happen with my own aunt.
My aunt lost her son and husband of 49 years just four weeks apart. This left her alone, vulnerable and overwhelmed. Suddenly she had to take care of everything on her own while still coping with her recent losses. Family and friends that live nearby helped whenever they could– yet with work and their own families, it’s not possible to be there 24–7. My aunt is self-sufficient and has a healthy mind, but physical ailments require a little extra help from time to time. For example: she hired a “friend of a friend” to help clean her house. My aunt needed help and the friend was down on her luck, struggling to take care of three children, so it was beneficial to both. What a perfect situation! My aunt trusted this person and wanted to help her out. Never once did she think this friend would take advantage of her.
One day immediately after this “friend” left for the day, my aunt noticed money missing from her purse. She searched frantically in disbelief that someone would take money from her, especially after she had been so generous! We questioned if she had possibly misplaced it. But as I said–my aunt is sharp! We knew it was missing. She filed a police report but there was no proof of the crime; therefore, legally nothing could be done.
After we realized that our aunt had been taken advantage of, we suggested that she check her other possessions. Still shocked and in disbelief about the missing money, she discovered most of her jewelry was stolen as well! She called the police again. This is when I felt the extent of the violation that my aunt had to endure. She was thinking of the jewelry that her husband and kids had purchased for her, and all the other valuables that she acquired over the years. She was sick to her stomach. It was all gone–taken from her! Mind you it wasn’t as much the monetary value as it was the sentimental value. Although my aunt has been deeply affected and haunted by this horrible situation, we have all learned from it.
With a simple plan in place, we hope to prevent this abuse from happening again. By developing your own personal plan, hopefully you can prevent it as well.
Here is what we came up with:
1) Form a “Buddy System.” Get all friends and neighbors to keep an eye out for one another.
2) If something like this should happen, do not hesitate to involve the police. They need to be made aware so they can keep an eye on your house and neighborhood.
3) If possible, involve trusted family members when welcoming any stranger into your home. For example: house cleaning, yard or repair services. Arrange an interview, and have a family member (s) present to interview the candidate. This will also let the cleaning person, lawn care attendant, etc., know that you are around and watching over your loved one and their welfare.
4) Ask your loved ones not to discuss personal finances with anyone outside of their circle of trust.
5) Stop by and visit or pick up the phone and call as much as you can.
6) Verbalize any questions or concerns that you may have. You may bruise someone’s ego for questioning their decisions, but in the long run, they just might be grateful. And, you will feel secure knowing that you did everything possible to look out for their safety.
There are too many good–hearted elderly people out there that want to be independent and have every right to be. Let’s do what we can to look out for each other and stop elder abuse!