Every year on June 15th, the United Nations spearheads World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is an opportunity to recognize the challenges facing Older Americans, and to help protect vulnerable older populations around the world from the growing epidemic of abuse. In the United States, professionals from all different backgrounds stand together in observance to help educate seniors and their families about their rights.

One question families often contend with is: how can adult children protect their elder loved ones when they live far away? We know this is a challenge you and your loved ones may be dealing with right now. Although there are no easy solutions, one answer is to help them build reliable support systems.

Elder abuse is defined as the mistreatment or harming of an older person. It can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature. Abuse can take the form of bruises, welts, untreated bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, poor living conditions, and even sexual assault. In converse, it may also begin with, or include, neglect and financial exploitation. Financial abuse can result in unpaid bills, lost money, and sudden changes in estate plans. Overall, telltale signs of all abuse can include excessive fear and anxiety, depression, isolation, and general unresponsiveness.

Finding people who understand elder abuse, it’s causes, risk factors and warning signs, is not as difficult as one might think. Doctors, health professionals, clergy members, and other professionals, have a mandatory duty to report suspected abuse. Especially when you are an adult child who lives out of state, consider building a healthy rapport with several of these individuals who frequently interact with your aging parents and periodically check in with them. If friends or other family members live nearby, ask them to take an active role in checking in as well.

Involving your senior relative in community activities and social groups is a good way to reduce isolation, which is not only healthy, but also limits the risk of abuse associated with being alone. The U.S. Administration on Aging offers an Eldercare Locator that can help you find the right services and organizations in your elder loved one’s area.

Remember that personally keeping in touch with the elder as much as you are able to can have significant benefits as well. Regular conversations may also be able to reveal concerning risks or instances of abuse. Above all, never hesitate to report suspected abuse. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and want to help you find the solutions you need when it comes to elder care in Florida. To learn even more on this important topic, you can use this link to discover how to report elder abuse in Florida.