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Your parents may not be in good hands when cared for by relatives

You know that your parents’ mental and physical abilities have been in decline for several years, but your worries about putting them in assisted living were assuaged when a nearby relative offered to move in and care for them. Your relative is retired, and therefore has the time to meet your parents’ needs. You also felt it fair when your relative requested compensation for taking on the responsibility of caring for your parents. However, many Texans have found to their dismay that people they trusted to care for their elderly loved ones did not provide the quality of care they had hoped for, and may even have abused or neglected them.

Elder abuse is not uncommon in the United States, unfortunately, with an estimated one out of every 10 senior citizens being the victims of physical, emotional or financial abuse. The National Care Planning Council states that family members instigated 90 percent of senior abuse cases. It might never cross your mind to cause harm to vulnerable seniors when they have cognitive or physical impairments. Some family members do not have the same viewpoint.

If you have concerns that your parents’ caregiver does not have their best interests in mind, you might look for the following:

  • Signs of fear, isolation or depression, especially toward the caregiver
  • Statements such as, “She won’t let me visit my friends,” or “He yells at me and sometimes hits me”
  • Unexplained injuries or signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Poor hygiene or unsanitary living conditions
  • Missing cash and valuables or depleted bank accounts

An unscrupulous caregiver may even use his or her influence to coerce your parents into signing over an inheritance or gaining power of attorney to seize control of their finances. If you suspect a family member is abusing your parents, you may need to seek immediate legal counsel.

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