In the United States, elder abuse in all its forms is becoming more prevalent as the population ages. According to a, it is more common in nursing homes and nursing facilities
To protect yourself and the older adults in your life, learn the warning signs of abuse and where and when to report suspected abuse.
Elder abuse is any act that harms older adults. The damage can take many forms. It can be performed by relatives, financial advisors, carers, spouses, or anyone else dealing with an elderly person. Sometimes older adults can even neglect or harm themselves.
The National Council on Aging reports that 1 in 10 adults over the age of 60 have experienced abuse. Abuse can increase the risk of death by 300 percent for older adults.
Some experts say that elder abuse is not often reported. This could be because those involved are ashamed or afraid of being reported. Some may not be sure how to report abuse. Some may be confused as to whether what is happening qualifies as abuse. In some cases, abusers prevent older adults from reporting abuse by isolating them or destroying computers or phones they could use to seek help.
It is important to realize that elder abuse will not go away on its own. Usually someone has to step in and stop the abuse.
Elder abuse can take many forms. Understanding the types can help you spot the signs and help individuals escape elder abuse. Individuals who experience elder abuse are often affected by more than one type. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, types of elder abuse include:
- emotional abuse
- sexual abuse
- financial or material exploitation
- self neglect
Physical abuse is the use of force in a way that causes pain or injury to an older adult. If someone tells you they are being abused, take the report seriously. It’s also important to point out if caregivers do not want you to be alone with a person in their care or if they need plenty of notice before your visit.
Look out for these signs of physical abuse:
- Bruises, scrapes, burns, broken bones, welts, swelling or other injuries
- signs of restraint, such as B. Rope tracks
- broken glasses
- lost or damaged phones
- Anxiety, fear and other changes in emotion
- Withdrawal, silence, rocking and other signs of trauma
- Laboratory reports showing over or underprescribing medication
Emotional abuse can be harder to spot than visible clues like bruises and broken bones. But emotional abuse can be even more devastating for vulnerable older adults. When you hear a caregiver or family member dismiss an older adult’s concerns or isolate, control, belittle, upset, or yell at them, find out more about what’s going on.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- emotional changes such as B. Anxiety, anxiety, depression, excitement or withdrawal
- Signs of trauma such as B. Swings
- excessive apologies
- ask permission to perform usual or necessary functions
If an older adult tells you that a caregiver or family member is being cruel or emotionally abusive, take the report seriously. No one should have to live with emotionally damaging treatment.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact that occurs without consent. Sexual abuse also has an inherent power imbalance and its implications for consent, and it can occur in any setting. If an older adult tells you they have been sexually assaulted or touched in an inappropriate way, take the report seriously and get help.
Look out for these warning signs:
- vaginal or anal bleeding
- sexually transmitted infections
- Bruising on the breasts or around the genitals
- emotional changes such as fear, anxiety, depression or withdrawal
- Aversion to using toilet or bathing
- torn or stained underwear or bedding
- Signs of showing pornography to an older adult
- pelvic injuries
- Trouble sitting or walking
- Signs of an inappropriate connection between a caregiver and an older adult
- Personality changes such as aggression, sexually inappropriate behavior, or restlessness
Financial abuse is when someone uses an older adult’s money, assets, benefits, loans, or property without their understanding and consent.
- Changes in output behavior
- unexpected cash withdrawals from ATMs
- Online Transfers
- missing possessions or valuables
- Policyholder Changes
- Signatures you don’t recognize on financial documents
- new names on bank signature cards or joint accounts
- new loans or mortgages
- Unopened or unpaid invoices are piling up
- Eviction notices or warnings that essential services such as utilities will be shut down
Neglect occurs when someone responsible for caring for an older adult withholds food, water, care, medication, or supplies needed. Unsafe environments are also considered careless.
If someone tells you that their needs are being neglected, take the report seriously. Without proper care, chronic health conditions can worsen and older adults can be at risk of early death. Here are some signs to look out for:
- unexplained weight loss
- bedsores or untreated injuries
- Lack of nutritious food in the home
- no heating or air conditioning
- Environment that smells of urine or feces
- unkempt appearance
- unwashed clothes or bedding
- long fingernails or toenails
- bad dental care
- trip hazards
- seemingly neglected pets
- Equipment needed, such as glasses, hearing aids, walking aids, wheelchairs, medication, or canes, is not where it should be
Abandonment occurs when a person responsible for the care of an older adult or who has legal custody of them abandons that adult.
Signs of elderly abandonment include:
- a report from an older adult that their caregiver has left them
- Leaving an older adult in a public place such as a mall or store
- Leaving an older adult in a facility such as a hospital or nursing home
- Listen to older adults when they tell you about mistreatment.
- Report abuse if you suspect it.
- Learn to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect.
- Keep in touch with older adults in the care of others.
- Provide some relief to caregivers.
- Get help for caregivers or family members with drug problems.
You can also help older adults stay physically active and get involved in faith communities, civic organizations, support groups, or advocacy groups. Isolation can make abuse more likely.
Any older adult who depends on others to help them with daily activities is at risk of elder abuse.
- Adults over 80 years
- Coloured people
- residents of long-term care facilities
- low-income people
The risk of elder abuse is higher when carers:
- are untrained
- feel burdened with responsibility
- have a substance use disorder
- are financially dependent on the older adult
- have a mental illness or personality disorder
- care for an older adult with a mental illness or personality disorder
- have limited community resources
Research only suggests so
Researchers found that abuse was more common right after events like these:
- Someone threatened to call the authorities.
- A quarrel arose over household matters.
- Someone has confronted an abuser for financial exploitation or theft.
- Someone tried to prevent the perpetrator from entering the house.
- There was a conflict about child rearing or drug use.
- Someone tried to stop a perpetrator from committing violence against a family member.
- A disagreement arose about a romantic relationship.
Elder abuse and neglect can impair quality of life, aggravate chronic health conditions, and even threaten the lives of older adults. Reports of elder abuse and neglect are few, so it’s especially important to look out for warning signs of physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse.
If someone you know tells you they are being abused, or if you spot signs of abuse, you shouldn’t watch and wait. Report the abuse to someone who can protect the older adult experiencing the abuse.