According to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Unfortunately, close to 60% of elder abuse is committed by a close family member. Older adults, especially those with a disability or mental impairment, are vulnerable and at an even higher risk of being abused or neglected. Today, we look at the most common forms of elder abuse and how to determine if your elderly relative, friend, or loved one is being abused.
What Are the Types of Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, confinement, abandonment, deprivation, and exploitation. To gain more insight into what these types of abuse consist of, we have compiled the following:
Harming an individual through physical pain or injury. Might include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, slapping, pushing, shoving, or beating.
Intentional infliction of anguish, anxiety, and/or stress through verbal and nonverbal acts. Examples may include threats, humiliation, harassment, intimidation, or verbal assaults.
Having an individual to partake in a sexual activity when the person is unable to understand what is happening, unwilling to consent, feels threatened, or is physically forced to do so. This could look like inappropriate touching, fondling, intercourse, coerced nudity, or sexual assault.
A caregiver failing to provide an individual with necessary care, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, or other essentials. It could also occur when a caregiver forces an individual to reside in unsafe or unclean living conditions.
Isolating an individual for any reason other than a medical purpose.
The desertion of an elderly individual by the person responsible for their care. An example of this could be leaving an elderly person at the grocery store unattended.
Consists of denying an older adult medication, medical care, food, shelter, or any other forms of assistance. This could cause additional physical, mental, or emotional harm.
This could take the form of financial exploitation where one withholds or steals an older adult’s finances.
What Are the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?
Learn to spot the signs of elder abuse so you can take action against such behavior as soon as possible. Some of these warning signs include but are not limited to the following:
- Signs of physical abuse such as bruises, broken bones, and burns
- Arguments between the adult and caregiver
- Poor Hygiene
- Weight loss
- Sudden changes in finances
The Long-Term Effects of Elder Abuse
According to the National Council on Aging, elders who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death compared to those who have not. Many elder abuse cases go unreported only to cause severe mental and physical health issues for this age group. Adults over the age of 60 are more likely to have a mental impairment, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, and are at an even higher risk of social isolation. Without someone to report the abuse to, these individuals could suffer without help for years.
How Do You Make an Elder Abuse Report?
If you suspect an elderly adult is in immediate danger, it is best to call 911. You can also contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency where the adult resides, or the Eldercare Locator for additional resources. You can reach the Eldercare Locator via phone by calling 1-800-677-1116.
How to Prevent Elder Abuse
Caregivers, seniors, professionals, and family members can all play a role in preventing elder abuse. The best way to prevent it is to learn more about the subject material and ask questions about how your elderly loved one will be taken care of – if he/she has a caretaker. Some other options include:
- Taking care of the elder’s health
- Attend support groups to learn more about how to care for an elderly adult
- Understand your rights and the rights of your elderly adult
- Pay attention to your elderly adult’s needs, concerns, and interests
- Create a plan that has someone trustworthy handling the elder’s finances, including his/her mail
If you need assistance with your elder abuse case, contact our office online or give us a call at (352) 310-8169 to get started.