Heres the situation: You havent seen your elderly neighbor lately, but people youve never seen before are coming and going from her home. You dont want to be snoopy, but you are concerned. What should you do?
Your neighbor may be just fine (with family and friends visiting and keeping her busy). Or she may be having a health problem and the visitors are caregivers. Or, in a darker scenario, she may have become the victim of elder abuse.
Abuse can be either physical or financial they often go hand-in-hand or take the form of neglect. Abuse occurs all too often. In just one year there were more than 225,000 reported cases of elder and dependent adult abuse in California, according to the California Attorney General. Thats more than 600 per day. And the experts estimate that only one in five cases is reported. Elder abuse is a crime.
If you see such a situation, we strongly encourage you do something not only for your neighbors sake, but for your own. Think how you would feel should something be really wrong, and you did nothing to stop it.
Your options include telephoning your neighbors home and asking to speak with her, or stopping by and asking to visit with her. You may find that everything is fine. On the other hand, you could find someone who keeps you from speaking or visiting with her a cause for great concern. Those who abuse elders frequently seek to isolate them. Dreadfully,abusers are often family members.
Another approach if you can get the phone numbers would be to call her family members or friends to check on how shes doing. They may be able to alleviate your concern or be able to check up on her themselves and report back to you.
You can also contact your local police agency and ask them to stop by your neighbors home and do whats commonly called a welfare check.
Still another option, especially if you believe that there is an abusive situation, is to call the your countys Adult Protective Services program and ask them to investigate. You should be able to find that program in the government section of your telephone book.
Finally, if you believe theres an emergency, call 911.
If youre snoopy, but find that everything is just fine what harm have you done? And if your neighbor needs help, we all thank you for being there.
harm have you done? And if your neighbor needs help, we all thank you for being there.