Elder Abuse

How To Spot Elder Abuse And Stop Elder Abuse And Neglect Today

Elder Abuse And Neglect

Every year countless thousands of elderly people are abused, neglected and exploited. More than half a million abuses against elderly Americans are reported every year and millions more go unreported. It’s happening in their own homes, in relatives’ homes and even in professional care facilities. Victims are older people, frail, vulnerable and cannot help themselves. Many depend on others to meet their most basic needs and are betrayed. Abusers are both women and men and they may be family members, friends or other trusted people.

What Is Elder Abuse?

As people grow older many become physically frail, less able to withstand bullying and cannot defend themselves if attacked. Often they cannot see and hear as well or think as clearly as when they were young. Unscrupulous people take advantage of them. Even the people who live with them may grow impatient with their mental or physical ailments. Abusers are apt to be adult children, other family members such as grandchildren or the spouses or partners. Trusted institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities are also known locations for elder abuse.

What Are The Types Of Elderly Abuse?

  • Physical Abuse — Non-accidental use of force, inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, resulting in physical pain, injury or impairment.
  • Emotional Abuse — Inflicting psychological and mental pain, anguish or distress on a through verbal or nonverbal acts, resulting in emotional distress, humiliation, intimidation and threats.
  • Sexual Abuse — Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with the senior, forcing them to view pornographic material and acts or forcing their participation, result in trauma like physical and emotional abuse.
  • Neglect — Failure to provide food, shelter, health care or other caretaking obligations by those responsible for the senior, resulting in malnutrition, physical injury and death. Whether intentional or unintentional (ignorance or denial that the senior needs the care) constitutes more than half of all reported cases of elder abuse.
  • Self-Neglect — Failure of the senior to perform essential, self-care tasks; not caring for their own health or safety results in threats to the senior’s own health or safety.
  • Abandonment — Desertion of a vulnerable elder by those responsible for their care, or intent to leave them unattended for such a time period as endangers their health or welfare, resulting in threats to the senior’s health and safety.
  • Exploitation — Unauthorized use, misuse or concealment of an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets by a caregiver or other unscrupulous person, resulting in diminished means to provide for the senior’s livelihood.
  • Rights Abuse — Denial of the civil and constitutional rights of a senior not formally declared by court to be mentally incapacitated, resulting in diminished capacity to make decisions for herself.
  • Healthcare Abuse — Overmedicating, undermedicating, fraudulent remedies for medical conditions, charging for healthcare not provided and other fraud, resulting in diminished healthcare of the senior.

Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse

It’s far too easy to dismiss signs of elderly abuse. They may appear to be signs of the senior’s frailty or symptoms of dementia. Caregivers may explain them that way. Many signs and symptoms of elder abuse overlap with mental deterioration symptoms. That doesn’t mean you should dismiss them outright.

Be alert. The elderly often suffer in silence. Question what is going on if you notice changes in personality or behavior. Don’t try to verify that abuse is occurring. Alert others of your suspicions:

  • Frequent arguments and tension between caregiver and the senior;
  • Changes in the seniors’s personality or behavior;
  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions and burns;
  • Bedsores, unmet medical needs, poor hygiene and weight loss; and
  • Sudden changes in her financial situation.

Stop Elderly Abuse

Every state has at least one toll-free elder abuse hotline or helpline for reporting elder abuse. Information is also available from the national Eldercare Locator: 800-677-1116. Preventing elder abuse requires three things of you:

  1. Listen to the seniors and their caregivers.
  2. Intervene and ask questions when you suspect elder abuse.
  3. Educate others about recognizing and reporting elder abuse.

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