Avoid Becoming a Victim of Abuse

Stay active in your church, social groups and organizations as long as possible. Notify friends of any new address or phone numbers and keep in contact with as many as possible. A network of friends with whom you interact on a regular basis is a good defense against abuse.

Invite friends to come visit you at home and make it a habit to talk with several on a daily basis. Abusers are cowards who don't want to be exposed. Caregivers who realize that you have outside contacts to will act on your behalf are less likely to consider abuse.

Keep valuable possessions in safe, specific places. Make caregivers aware that you know where you keep everything (especially having to do with finance, like financial portfolios, stock certificates, bank statements, check and bank books). Open and post your own mail. Screen calls with an answering machine.

Maintain control of your finances and business as long as possible.

Have Social Security and pension checks deposited directly to your bank account, rather than mailed to your home. Have your lawyer arrange powers of attorney for health and finance with those you trust, in case of future disabilities.

Seek legal advice before agreeing to give property, possessions or money in exchange for on-going care. Don't be coerced into changing your will, but do review it periodically with your attorney.

If you keep firearms or other weapons in your house, make sure they are properly stored in a locked area and keep the key hidden securely.

Don't leave you home unattended. Whenever you travel for pleasure, or must go into the hospital, ask a friend or family member to stay at the house. If your caregiver has a house key, and you are uneasy about their having it while you are away, ask for its temporary return so your "house-sitter" can use it.

Don't invite strangers into your home; even if they seem only to want to help. Don't allow a family member who has a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or violent behavior to move into your home as a caretaker. If you need assistance, contact a bonded service organization that thoroughly screens their employees.

Know who to contact and seek help at the first incident of any kind of abuse, by anyone. Elder abuse only escalates with time and secrecy.

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