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For some time now the State of Michigan and providers have focused on the rampant crime of elder abuse. Thus, we created a slogan which is easy to remember with a hotline to call. No Excuse For Elder Abuse can be reached at the toll free number (855) 444-3911. Presbyterian Villages of Michigan has played a role in developing protocols for reporting and prosecuting at the state level. We have also supported the publishing of materials and hosted major trainings in our area.

The Area Agency on Aging 1B, along with Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan have recently published good information on what elder abuse is and how to detect it. Chances are you may know someone who is being abused. Elder abuse is much harder to detect in many cases than child abuse sine there is no school system to assist with detection. Here are some of the facts:

Elder Abuse is a crime that is committed against older adults. It is the most pervasive and underreported crime across the nation. Anyone can be abused; but vulnerable adults are most at risk. Warning signs can include social isolation, confusion, depression, dehydration, being undernourished, poor hygiene, bedsores, difficulty sleeping, not receiving appropriate health care, or changes in finances or documents. One major sign is when someone in charge of their care finds ways to prevent them from seeing others.

For adult caregivers it is important to keep a close eye on your loved one’s physical condition as well as their finances. It is not good to be too trusting. In one instance an older brother had total control of his mother’s finances. She owned a beautiful and valuable home and had been comfortable financially. This son had a history of being quite responsible and had an excellent career. Suddenly his life took a downward spiral – loss of job, divorce and mental health issues. By the time his siblings realized what was going on their mother’s finances were in ruins; and her home was close to going into foreclosure. In many cases it is good to require two signatures for checks. Also, do not leave checkbooks and financial documents sitting around. If you are using caregivers properly vet them or use a service. Make sure you vet the service as well.

If you notice any of these signs of abuse in your friends or family members do not ignore them. You can report any suspicions anonymously. Also, if there are no issues no harm is done. Once again to report suspected abuse CALL 1 (855) 444-3911.