Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to a older person.
While elders of all ages are vulnerable to abuse, those who are 85 and older are at the greatest risk. Women are also more likely to be victimized than men. And, sadly, most elder abuse is perpetrated by someone the victim knows and trusts, such as a family member, friend, or caretaker.
Elder abuse is common. Abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by about 1 in 10 people aged 60 and older who live at home. From 2002 to 2016, more than 643,000 older adults were treated in the emergency department for nonfatal assaults and over 19,000 homicides occurred.
If you suspect that an older person in your life is being abused, it’s important to speak up. Elder abuse is a serious problem, and victims need our help to stop the cycle of violence.
What Are The Different Types Of Elder Abuse?
There are many different types of elder abuse, including:
Physical abuse – This can involve hitting, slapping, shoving, kicking, biting, burning or otherwise causing physical harm to a older person.
Emotional abuse – This can involve yelling at or insulting a older person, threatening them, or repeatedly ignoring or putting them down.
Sexual abuse – This can involve any non-consensual sexual contact with a older person, including rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
Financial abuse – This can involve stealing money from a older person, using their credit cards without permission, or coercing them into signing over property or financial assets.
Neglect – This can involve denying a older person basic needs like food, water, clothing, shelter, medication, or medical care.
Confinement – This is restraining and/or isolating an elderly person for any other reason than a medical one.
Abandonment – This can involve leaving a older person alone without food, water, or shelter, or abandoning them at a hospital or nursing home.
Psychological abuse – This can involve threats, intimidation, verbal assault, or emotional manipulation.
What Are The Signs Of Elder Abuse?
There are many signs that may indicate that an elderly person is being abused. Unfortunately, because elder abuse often occurs in private, these signs may be the only way to tell that something is wrong.
The following are some common signs of elder abuse:
- Bruises, cuts, or welts in unexpected places
- Broken bones
- Bed sores
- Signs of restraint, such as rope marks on wrists or ankles
- Withdrawal from usual activities or social interactions
- Unusual fearfulness or anxiety
- Depression or changes in mood or personality
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of personal belongings or money
- Dirty clothing or appearance
- Unsanitary living conditions
If you see any of these signs, it’s important to take action. Talk to the elderly person if possible, and try to get more information about what is happening.
You may also want to contact a local elder abuse hotline or the police.
Remember, elder abuse is a crime, and those who commit it should be held accountable.
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to assist victims of elder abuse, and with your support, they can get the help they need to escape their situation and live safely and happily.
Who Are The Abusers?
There are many different types of abusers. They could be a family member,friend, caregiver, or even a stranger.
Abusers are both women and men. In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone, but some people are at greater risk than others. For example, older adults who are isolated or have few social contacts are more likely to be abused. Other risk factors include financial dependence, cognitive impairments, and a history of being abused.
If you suspect that an older adult is being abused, it’s important to reach out for help. You can contact your local adult protective services agency or the police.
You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential support.
Abuse of older adults is a serious problem, but it’s one that we can all help to prevent. By staying alert for signs of abuse and knowing how to get help, we can make a difference in the lives of older adults everywhere.
What Can Be Done To Prevent Elder Abuse?
There are many things that can be done to prevent elder abuse.
One of the most important things is to make sure that older adults have a strong support system in place. This could include family, friends, and caregivers who can help them stay safe and healthy.
It’s also important to educate yourself and others about what elder abuse is and how to spot it. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Some other ways include…
- Helping caregivers who are struggling.
- Making sure that older adults have access to resources they need.
- Working to end ageism and discrimination against older adults.
- Creating laws and policies that protect older adults from abuse.
- Raising awareness about elder abuse through education and public campaigns.
There are a few resources available to victims of elder abuse, and you can make a difference in someone’s life by speaking up.
National Center on Elder Abuse – here you can find information on reporting elder abuse and resources on prevention.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline – I mentioned this earlier. The number is 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY).