The Interview Ask all family, caregivers and others to leave. Begin with orienting information. Address the victim by name. Indicate that you come as a friend. Speak in a low conversational tone.
Posture Face the person and look them in the eye. Ask permission to sit near the person to be at eye level. Never tower over an older person.
Eliminate Environmental Distractions Close windows to traffic. Ask to turn off TV or radio. Multiple stimuli make it difficult for victim to concentrate.
Assistive devices Ask if the victim needs hearing aid, glasses, or dentures. Do not raise your voice. This may cause victim to be afraid.
Relax Smile and relax. Dementia patients are especially sensitive to feelings.
Slow Speak slowly in short, simple sentences. Be patient. Give time to respond. Don’t interrupt.
Listen Listen. Don’t interrupt. But if the victim is having trouble “word finding,” use examples.
Be active Ask for clarification when needed. If you see signs of abuse the victim is not talking about, ask questions, such as “did someone do this to you?” and watch their eyes.
Feelings Acknowledge feelings. One way is to ask “feelings” questions, such as “are you angry?”
Touch A simple touch can convey caring and security. In some cultures, touch is considered intrusive. If helping a person into a chair, ask permission first. Then use a light touch.
Look – Observe - Smell Observe victims’ body language. If a caregiver is alleged to be abuser, invite them to join you and observe the victim’s reactions and comfort level. Observe obvious bruises and body marks. Note body odor, dirty clothing, body or environment for indications of neglect.
Using Distraction If the victim becomes agitated, distract him to move his attention to something else.
Tips Investigate further: bed sores, bruises, lacerations, dehydration, malnutrition, over-medication, grab marks, and caregiver giving homeopathic remedies. Observe interactions between the alleged victim and the caregiver, especially when you reunite them. Does the caregiver resist letting you speak with the senior alone? Does he answer for the senior?
Document for use at trial: Observations of the senior, Observations of the caregiver, What the senior tells you coupled with their emotional state at the time of telling, Whatever the caregiver says to you, and Photograph injuries and general condition of the senior.
If you’re unsure, Ask other experts for help. This includes ER doctors, social workers, or APS. Not all cases of neglect are criminal. Social service agencies can often help families who unwittingly neglect seniors. Refer.
Referrals Area agency on aging Adult Protective Services District Attorney’s office Eldercare locator, for all elder services