Six Steps to Better Brain Health

While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with challenges, it has also taught us lessons. Likely, you have tapped into your emotional reserves and discovered how resilient you are during this time.

Brain health, of which mental health is an essential component, has been at the forefront of many conversations with family, friends, and colleagues during the pandemic.  We have all experienced varying levels of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and grief during this time. Our brain health has helped us manage and process these emotions as well as exercise resilience.

June is Brain Wellness and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Take this opportunity to review and strengthen these 6 key practices, necessary for rebuilding your reserves, strengthening your brain, and lowering your risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Six Steps: Move. Eat. Sleep. Monitor. Engage. Challenge.

  1. Move your body. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Regular physical activity improves blood flow to the brain, enhances memory and learning, improves mood and thinking. And it’s never too late to start. Begin with a short walk in your neighborhood or gentle chair yoga. You can find helpful videos online. Here’s one video to get you started. Please check with your healthcare provider first to make sure you are cleared for exercise. And be aware of any hazards (cords, shoes, rugs, poor lighting, uneven sidewalks) in the area where you chose to exercise.


  1. Eat smart. It’s true: We are what we eat. One of the best approaches to eating in support of brain health and lowering the risk of developing dementia is adopting a Mediterranean diet. The foundation of this diet is fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. Eat poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation. Only rarely eat red meat. Don’t eat added sugars, processed meats, refined grains, or highly processed foods. Farmers markets are opening again. Fresh produce is abundant. If you garden, all the better.


  1. Get your Zzz’s. Often overlooked, sleep is fundamental to brain health and lowering dementia risk. Seven to eight hours of consecutive sleep a night is restorative and cleansing. Sleep also plays an important role in restoring our immune system as well as helping manage stress and balance mood. Regular physical activity and eating smart can also help aid sleep. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, which disrupts sleep patterns and is harmful to brain health, please talk with your health care provider.


  1. If you have a health condition such as hypertension, high cholesterol, depression, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s advice closely. Take medication as prescribed. Let unchecked, these health concerns could result in serious complications. All these conditions have been shown to contribute to an increased risk of developing dementia. And if you smoke, quit. Try a smoking cessation program.


  1. Social engagement and interaction are important. Many of us have experienced isolation during quarantine. The pandemic has reinforced how vital human connection and interaction are to our overall health, especially our brain health. Research shows that individuals who stay socially engaged experience the slowest rates of cognitive decline. Fortunately, public spaces are slowly reopening and more people are getting vaccinated. Pace yourself but get out there and spend time with family and friends once again. Something as simple as an in-person coffee chat with an old friend can do wonders to brighten your day, enhance your mood, and benefit your brain.


  1. Stimulating the brain with intellectual challenges helps trigger new brain cell growth and builds new neural pathways. To strengthen and flex your brain, try something new. Learn a new language. Always wanted to play to piano? Start now! Take a poetry or memoir writing class. How about those salsa dancing lessons you’ve always dreamed of? Here’s your excuse to find a class and get started. The possibilities are endless.

For more ideas, check these Additional Resources & Encouragement:

About the Author: Contributor Keri Pollock directs marketing and communications for Aging Wisdom, an Aging Life Care practice based in Seattle. She is a member of the Age Friendly Coalition for Seattle and King County (WA), serves on the Frye Art Museum Creative Aging Programs Advisory Committee, the Marcomm Council of the Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the ALCA PR Committee.

Gray is a Color on the Rainbow

Two men having coffeeJune is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and affirm the diverse mosaic of our humanity. Part of this rainbow coalition includes a growing number of LGBTQIA+ elders. Conservative estimates are that there are over 3 million LGBTQIA+ people over 50 living in the US today. According to SAGE, an advocacy organization for the older LGBTQIA+ community, that number is expected to grow to over 7 million by 2030. LGBTQIA+ adults (ages 65 and older) came of age during the McCarthy Era when their identity was severely stigmatized and criminalized. They had to deny who they were and live under a blanket of silence or risk verbal or physical assaults, job loss, discrimination, and ostracization. Since then, several hard-won victories, such as the Equality Act, bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

However, many older adults in the community still face unique obstacles. Elderly LGBTQIA+ adults are less likely to have had the opportunities to parent, reduce their support system, and increase their likelihood of living alone. The resulting isolation has often led to financial insecurity. As they age, they are much more likely to be caregivers for their friends in the LGBTQIA+ community. Because they have experienced many challenges throughout their lives, they have higher incidences of depression, substance abuse, and HIV. Many older LGBTQIA+ adults experience high levels of discrimination in accessing assisted living or affordable housing. In fact, a transition into senior living for many can mean going back “into the closet” as they do not have confidence that senior residences can accommodate their care and safety needs. This is compounded if they have memory issues. Many same-sex partners are still denied visitation rights in hospitals and long-term care residences. Many LGBTQIA+ elders are not candid about their sexual orientation for fear of receiving inferior care from medical providers.

Some positive developments are on the horizon. There are now an increasing number of senior living residences and aging in place communities that are creating more welcoming and inclusive environments. More and more people realize that LGBTQIA+ cultural competency training for a medical, facility, and home care staff is key to developing affirming and inclusive care. On advocacy, we must continue to pressure federal, state, and local governments to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections in existing housing laws. Senior housing providers must be pushed to adopt anti-discrimination policies (SAGE LGBTQIA-friendly housing resources). On a broader level, the community’s unique needs need to be integrated into systems of care across the continuum so that services for older adults are assessed on their ability to be both welcoming for people who are older and who identify as LGBTQIA+. As we continue to evolve into a more inclusive society, it is past time to show our LGBTQIA+ elders who fought for equality the dignity and respect they deserve and acknowledge and affirm that their dreams for aging well matter.

This blog originally appeared on the HealthSense blog.

About the Author:  Anne C. Sansevero, RN, MA, GNP, CCM is the founder and CEO of HealthSense LLC, an Aging Life Care management consulting practice. She is a master’s prepared geriatric nurse practitioner, and a seasoned nursing professional with over 30 years of experience in the field. Anne has a sub-specialty in neurological disorders and is well versed in all aspects of geriatric nursing. She has particular expertise with communication disorders relating to stroke and dementia and has developed a number of innovative nursing assessment tools and standards to improve the nursing care for frail elders. Anne is a member of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) and Fellow of the Aging Life Care Leadership Academy. She is currently serving on the board of the ALCA, and is Vice President of the New York Chapter. In addition, Anne is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the Nurse Practitioners of New York. Anne is a registered nurse, certified care manager, and a master’s prepared geriatric nurse practitioner.

“Born in Ireland, I come from a strong medical family of physicians and nurses. I was naturally drawn to a career in health care where you can make a real difference in the lives of others. In the 1980s, I was recruited for a nursing career opportunity in the United States and fell in love with the energy and optimism that is part of this country’s cultural DNA. In the acute care work setting, I became very attuned to how stressful hospitalization can be for older, frail adults. I found my calling as a nurse practitioner and Aging Life Care Professional while advocating for the elderly and working to improve their quality of life and to avoid hospitalizations. I have a deep appreciation for the wisdom and resilience that I see in my older clients and feel grateful to be able to contribute to helping them and their families lead happier lives.”

LGBTQ Care Managers in Care Management

lgbtq older adults empowermentWhile Aging Life Care Managers come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, they all have high qualifications, certifications, and uphold ALCA’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

Founded in 1985 by a handful of geriatric care social workers in New York City, the organization has grown to be nationwide and include educated professionals experienced in any of several fields related to Aging Life Care management, including, but not limited to counseling, gerontology, mental health, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, or social work with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and eldercare.

ALCA also aims to diversify membership by highlighting members not only in background, but in race, gender, and sexual orientation.

Here is one member’s account of her life as an active LGBTQ advocate, and her journey to Aging Life Care Management.

Personal Account

I grew up in a bi-racial household in the Washington D.C. area and I’ve been out as a lesbian since I was in my early twenties.

In my twenties, I was active in volunteer work in recreation for the handicapped. I was joined by Gallaudet students who were deaf helping blind children play beat ball. We also went to Tracks together to play volleyball and enjoyed really loud music (they could feel the vibrations). I would try to sign the words of the songs.

I also went to Act Out marches and had the pleasure of working at a Dupont Circle store.

After Hurricane Andrew I moved to St. Petersburg, FL in 1992. Here I worked hard to build friendships and community within my LGBTQ community.

I founded and ran a restaurant with a former partner. We served the LGBTQ community offering live music and drag shows on the weekends. We used the space when we were closed for P-FLAG meetings and LGBTQ youth meetings. We only lasted a couple years, lost more money than we made, but had so much fun. We ended our relationship as a couple, but we would both do it all again, no regrets.

I sang and played in duos and trios in coffee houses and a few LGBTQ bars. During the day I found myself working in healthcare because they were plentiful. I entered a new relationship with my now wife. We went to Tallahassee to protest the law against LGBTQ adoption in Florida and speak with state representatives.

After 5 years working in Oncology, I went to Massage school and became an LMT working for Chiropractors and Spa owners. Then back to school for nursing. A year out of school I landed my dream job as an LPN with hospice, I started part-time on call.

ALCA 2020 Board President Liz Barlowe was just starting her own care management company and was looking for part-time help. She put out feelers that reached me and, after repeated reminders, I reached back. I continued to work two other jobs: one in massage and for Hospice.

As I gained knowledge through Liz’s training and as her business grew, I had to make a choice. I gave up hospice but continued to work as a massage therapist while gaining experience as a care manager associate.

The time came where my services were needed full time in care management. I’ve worked for Barlowe & Associates for almost nine years and June marks five years full-time. My wife and I have been together for 21 years. She works for the city, which offered same-sex partner benefits before our marriage was legal. St. Petersburg provides great affordable benefits for us both.

Advocating Experiences

Cindy also writes about her experiences in advocating for LGBTQ Seniors in St. Petersburg:

A few years ago, I started attending our local Better Living for Seniors (BLS) committee meeting for LGBTQ elder issues. We met in the conference room of Pinellas County Area Agency on Aging. There were other care managers attending as well as an owner of a home care agency, an elder law attorney, an owner of a senior home fitness company, a representative from a local crematorium, and a marketer from a senior living community.

Some of us identified as part of the LGBTQ community, and some friends of the community. Working with our local Senior Center they organized a health and wellness fair held at the Senior center with free food and drinks, many health-related vendors with lots of swag to give away, free living-will legal assistance, speakers, and a trailer running on the big screen that showed still photos of historic moments and activists in the LGBTQ awareness movement.

The plan was to make it an annual event adding live music and food trucks the second year. The first-year turnout was low, but it was new, and trying to notify our target audience was challenging. I wasn’t able to attend the second year but that was the last one they held.

Afterward, I volunteered at the Pride BLS tent providing handouts (The LGBT Elder Initiative Resource Guide), printed for us by AAoA, some of which went to friends as many of them are older than me.

The next year I was asked to serve on an advisory board that had split from the BLS committee due to a group desire to provide direct services, which BLS was prohibited from doing. This group began meeting at Empath Health offices, which had a direct services division called Epic, and which provided services to our HIV+ community and those living with AIDS.

The plan was to develop a division under Epic to provide direct services to LGBTQ elders — all under the umbrella of Empath Health — which encompasses our Suncoast Hospice. There were grants to apply for as funding was needed.

One of the first big projects was a showing of the film Gen Silent, for which we had to gain permission and pay. There were screenings in St. Petersburg as well as Gulfport FL in 2019. A volunteer call program was started to call and check in with LGBTQ seniors. This has remained and been a main source of outreach during the pandemic. I am no longer active in Epic Generations as my work in care management extends into after-hours and weekends.

I will say – it is amazing to look back and see ideas become tangible organizations that serve an underserved population. I am proud of my efforts and our work and I hope more people will be inspired to recognize, and take care of, our LGBTQ older adults.

About the Author: Cindy Hillman, Aging Life Care™ Associate at Barlowe & Associates has over a decade of experience navigating the resources and choices for seniors living in Pinellas County. Since 2000 Cindy has been working in healthcare primarily with older adults. She is a nurse and massage therapist and worked with specialists in the fields of Cancer, Blood disorders, Lung disease, and Chiropractic. Cindy has volunteered for CASA, The American Cancer Society, the Federal Prison at Coleman (Women’s Education Department) and Hospice of the FL Suncoast. She sits on the Advisory Board for Epic Generations.

Equity in Aging for LGBT Older Adults: A Review of the Past Ten Years and Progress for the Future

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//// By: Denny Chan And Natalie Kean, Originally published in the May-June 2021 issue of Generations Today by the American Society on Aging. ////

Ten years ago, Justice in Aging and SAGE wrote a report, “Stories from the Field,” on discrimination LGBT older adults experience in nursing homes. We heard reports of staff at these facilities refusing to help gay men bathe or to use transgender residents’ correct pronouns. This was in addition to discriminatory policies that made it difficult or even impossible for transgender people to get Medicare coverage for prostate and pelvic exams and bans on gay men of any age donating blood. LGBT older adults living in the community have faced other barriers such as discriminatory housing policies.

While new legal protections have been enacted since we published our report, unfortunately many LGBT older adults are still discriminated against and many more continue to live in fear that they will be.  As we documented in our special report on the legal needs of low-income LGBT older adults, the effects of discrimination and poverty among LGBT individuals compound over the lifetime, such that many experience increased levels of poverty and other barriers as they age.

This is especially true for LGBT older adults of color and individuals with limited income and wealth, including immigrants who, depending upon their immigration status and length or residency, may be barred from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and nutrition and housing assistance. These immigrants can end up with little or no choice in providers of health, long-term care and social services.

Foundation for Equal Rights for LGBT Older Adults

In the past ten years, we have seen a foundation being built for equal rights and nondiscrimination for LGBT older adults, and it is worth celebrating. The courts have decided cases establishing landmark anti-discrimination protections and expanding rights for LGBT individuals, including older adults.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions striking down federal and state bans on same-sex marriages in U.S. v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges allowed Social Security spousal and survivor’s benefits to go to LGBT couples and their families and opened the door for Justice in Aging and others to fight against the Social Security Administration’s other discriminatory policies. These decisions continue to help LGBT older adults get relief from benefits miscalculations that occurred even before the cases were decided.


Most recently, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court decided that the prohibition of discrimination in employment “on the basis of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Affordable Care Act included the Health Care Rights Law (Section 1557). It is the only federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability specifically in health programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, and it is the first federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in healthcare.

The implementing regulations, finalized in 2016, interpreted Section 1557’s ban on sex discrimination to include prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sex stereotyping and gender identity. The 2016 Health Care Rights Law regulations also recognized intersectional discrimination, providing a new avenue to challenge discrimination under Section 1557 for LGBT older adults who experience discrimination in federal health programs and activities on the basis of multiple identities, such as gender identity, age and race.

The Push Back Against Progress

Unfortunately, the past ten years have also been met with persistent attempts to attack the rights of the LGBT community. In 2020, the Trump Administration eliminated these explicit protections for LGBT individuals in the Health Care Rights Law regulations. These rollbacks, along with removal of protections for limited English proficient older adults, undermine LGBT older adults’ rights and make it harder to seek redress from healthcare discrimination in court.

Other regulatory actions, such as expanding grounds for health and social services providers to deny services to LGBT individuals and proposals to permit homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender individuals when assigning housing, demonstrated the severe and ongoing hostility toward LGBT individuals.

The attacks continued in court, as well. Last fall the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case challenging Philadelphia’s decision to end its contract with a social services agency that refused to certify same-sex couples as foster parents. And the effects of intersectional discrimination against LGBT individuals play out in the COVID-19 pandemic, too, with LGBT people of color twice as likely as white non-LGBT people to report testing positive for COVID-19.

That is why Justice in Aging has joined other advocacy partners in actions to undo these harmful changes and repair the damaging effects of this discrimination. We are challenging the rollbacks to the Health Care Rights Law in court and joined a brief with many other aging advocacy organizations in Fulton.


President Biden signed an executive order extending housing anti-discrimination protections to LGBT individuals, and recently withdrew the prior administration’s proposal to permit discrimination against transgender individuals in housing programs and homeless shelters. The Biden administration also announced that it will interpret and enforce Section 1557 prohibitions on discrimination in healthcare based on sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity, consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock.

Congress has taken up the Equality Act, which builds on Bostock to codify that the prohibition on sex discrimination in major civil rights laws includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill, which has passed the House, would directly impact LGBT older adults by expanding the definition of sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and other laws.

The Equality Act would also expand the definition of “public accommodations” to include healthcare and legal services providers, banks, transportation, food banks and online retailers and service providers, among other businesses and locations. This expanded definition would increase anti-discrimination protections for LGBT older adults, not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but also race, national origin, including limited English proficiency, and other protected classes.

If it becomes law, the Equality Act will strengthen LGBT older adults’ rights to access healthcare, housing, long-term services and supports and other aging services without discrimination. Ongoing discrimination also is why Justice in Aging has been championing principles for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution to ensure that older adults who are most at-risk do not encounter barriers to getting the vaccine.

As the past 10 years have shown us, legal prohibitions on discrimination can be advanced rather quickly through laws and policies—and this is certainly important. However, it often takes those policies being implemented and litigated to make the protections real. We are encouraged by the Biden administration and Congress taking steps to put more anti-discrimination and equity-centered policies on the books.

Justice in Aging will continue to fight for these types of protections and make sure that those that are passed are robustly implemented so that LGBT older adults, especially those who have been harmed the most by systemic discrimination, can age in dignity and justice.

Denny Chan is directing attorney of Equity Advocacy in Justice in Aging’s (JIA) Los Angeles office and Natalie Kean is senior staff attorney in JIA’s Washington, DC office.

Navigating complex health-care systems with an Aging Life Care Professional®

Now that the Pandemic has BLOWN UP THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, especially long-term care, the need for a savvy and experienced Aging Life Care Manager® is more evident than ever.

Aging Life Care Professionals® are members of the Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA) and differ from Health Care Advocates, Patient Advocates, Senior Advisors, Senior Navigators, and Elder Advocates. ALCA members must meet stringent education, experience, and certification requirements of the organization, and all members are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

Long-term care facilities have long been under-resourced and under-staffed. Low expectations lead to low performance. Many assisted living and nursing homes have experienced a complete turnover of administrative staff: Executive Director, Nursing Director, social workers….leading to disarray at the point-of-care. Staffing shortages make this all worse, and it will be years before the long-term care system catches up. Hands-on staff shortages will be persistent.

Sometimes I get pushback from families who are concerned about spending their Mom’s money or other issues. What I tell these families is:

  1. A nursing home bed can cost more than $400 per day and assisted living can be more than $250-300 per day.
  2. Families could potentially spend this anyway, so spending it wisely to ensure your loved one is cared for in a quality way makes good financial sense.
  3. I compare to going to court without a lawyer as dealing with complex health care systems the same way: You could be more confident of an optimal outcome with a trained and qualified professional who knows the written (and unwritten) rules and how to negotiate in that space.
  4. When families engage an Aging Life Care Professional – they get a qualified expert with experience with these systems and our BEST JUDGEMENT.

About the Author: Michael Newell MSN, RN, started LifeSpan Care Management LLC in 2004 after 20 years in ICU and ER nursing. Similar to a rehab nursing model used in medical case management, LifeSpan Care Management gets many complex cases that other care managers may not be comfortable undertaking. Michael speaks (with CE approval) and writes on nursing, case/care management topics, such as dementia, medication and the elderly, outcomes measurement tools & insurance appeals. As vice president of the Central NJ chapter of the Case Management Society of America, Michael is also on the board of several local non-profit groups.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched in 2006 on June 15th by the World Health Organization. Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health problems in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. Learn how to identify those at risk and what to do if you are concerned about a vulnerable adult.

//// By: Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy ////

Perceptions people have about elder abuse are usually wrong. That’s disheartening because the way we think about elder mistreatment affects our ability to recognize the signs of abuse and our sense of urgency and commitment about stopping it.

Let’s take a look at the most common myths and learn the facts.

Myth #1 – Elder abuse occurs mostly in nursing homes.

Even though elder abuse does occur in nursing homes, it most often happens at home, behind closed doors in every community, regardless of socioeconomic status.[1]

Myth #2 – Strangers and paid caregivers are the ones preying on older people.

It’s heartbreaking, but most vulnerable adults are abused by a known, trusted person – usually a family member.  Abuse is frequently cloaked in a shroud of family secrecy that sometimes makes detection very difficult.

Myth #3 – The bad guys always get caught.

Criminal prosecutions of abusers are actually the exception rather than the rule because most victims don’t tell. They’re afraid, embarrassed or simply unable to report any wrongdoing to authorities.

Myth #4 – If there are no bruises or physical signs of abuse, there is nothing to worry about.

When thinking about abuse, nearly everyone immediately pictures bruises, broken bones and other types of physical cruelty. However, neglect and self-neglect are the most common types of abuse. Emotional abuse and financial exploitation happen frequently too. None of the typical forms of abuse result in obvious outward signs such as black eyes, welts or broken limbs.  If you are only looking for the physical signs of abuse you will inadvertently overlook the vast majority of cases.

Myth #5 – Caregiver stress causes elder abuse.

Caregiving by its very nature can be stressful – but stress doesn’t cause elder abuse. Most stressed caregivers do not harm the person they care for. By focusing on caregiver stress as an explanation, we tacitly excuse inexcusable behavior. Using “stress” as a rationale also shifts the focus to the abuser and away from the victim by evoking a perception that if the older person was just easier to care for, not sick, and not so demanding, the abuse would never occur.[2]

Myth #6 – Elder abuse happens to men and women equally.

Elder abuse happens most often to women, but plenty of men fall victim too. Regardless of gender, those with some type of cognitive impairment are at greatest risk of being abused.

Myth #7 – It’s not that big of a deal.

Elder abuse is one of the most overlooked public health hazards in the United States. Victims of abuse are three times more likely than those who weren’t mistreated to die prematurely. The National Center on Elder Abuse[3] estimates that between two to five million elderly Americans experience some form of abuse each year. It is believed that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.

Observing signs of abuse

Since a victim may not be able to report abuse, it’s up to others to observe the signs and intervene.types and definitions of abuse

Physical indicators can suggest abuse is occurring

  • Injuries that are inconsistent with the explanation for their cause
  • Bruises, welts, cuts, burns
  • Dehydration or malnutrition without illness-related cause

Behavioral signs shown by the victim indicating possible abuse

  • Fear, anxiety, agitation, anger, depression
  • Contradictory statements, implausible explanations for injuries
  • Hesitation to talk openly

Patterns seen in caretakers who abuse

  • History of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior or family violence
  • Anger, indifference, aggressive behavior toward the victim
  • Prevents victim from speaking to or seeing visitors
  • Flirtation or coyness as possible indicator of inappropriate sexual relationships
  • Conflicting accounts of incidents

Signs a vulnerable person is being financially exploited

  • Frequent expensive gifts from victim to a caretaker or “new best friend”
  • Drafting a new will or power of attorney when the victim seems incapable of drafting legal documents
  • Caretaker’s name (or the name of the victim’s “new best friend”) is added to the bank account
  • Frequent checks made out to “cash”
  • Unusual activity in bank account
  • Sudden changes in spending patterns

What to do if you identify someone at risk

We all need to vigilantly look for abuse around every corner of our neighborhood and in the care facilities we visit. One problem, though, is that our culture has taught us to avert our eyes, cover our ears, and mind our own business.

If you are concerned about a vulnerable adult, call 911 or your local adult protective services agency.

Many families also contact Aging Life Care Professionals™ who can provide an unbiased look at the situation, facilitate family meetings to discuss concerns and provide information about care options or ways to approach the situation.

These dedicated professionals understand the laws concerning elder abuse in the state where they practice and can help navigate complicated bureaucracies, act as an advocate for the older person and help develop a safe plan of care.  They work hand in hand with adult protective service caseworkers, police departments and elder law attorneys to ensure the safety of the older person and to coordinate appropriate services.

It is human nature to want to put our heads in the sand and change the subject to something more pleasant. But if we identify and report abuse when it occurs, we can stop the cycle and protect our most vulnerable elders.

About the author: A Fellow of the Leadership Academy, Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of ALCA. Jullie Serves on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Washington State. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


[2] Brandl, B. & Raymond, JA. Generations. American Society on Aging. Fall 2012. Vol 36. No. 3.