Elder abuse is more common than you think.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. Abuse occurs in private homes as well in medical facilities. Victims of abuse are more commonly women than men. Many of those targeted are older persons without family or friends nearby, or those with mental or memory problems. Depending on the abuse, victims can also be targeted by those closest to them. It is important to educate yourself about the types of elder abuse in order to protect your loved ones when they might not be able to protect themselves.
Types of Elder Abuse?
There are many types of abuse, they include Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional or Psychological Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment and Financial Abuse. These types of elder abuse are significant and some are more common than others.
Signs of Abuse
Signs of abuse vary based on the type of abuse. Some are easier to “see”, others are not.
According to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, these warning signs should trigger family members into action to protect their loved ones:
- Untreated bedsores
- Unexplained injuries or bruises
- Depression or changes in behavior
- Checks made out to cash or ATM withdrawals
- Mention of legal paperwork (such as changing a will or beneficiaries)
- Poor hygiene, dirty clothes or lack of proper food
- Change or decrease in activity with friends or family
What are the Long-Term Effects of Abuse?
Most wounds, physical or emotional, will heal over time. Any type of mistreatment can leave the abused person feeling fearful or depressed either short or long-term. Many times, the victim feels the abuse was their fault. The sooner the abuse is identified, the sooner the victim can be protected.
Who Can Get Help?
Elder abuse does not stop on its own. A family member or trusted friend must step in to help. Many time, seniors are ashamed of the abuse and do not report the mistreatment. Discuss the abuse alone with the victim and reassure them that they are safe and action will be taken to protect them physically or financially. The Administration for Community Living has a National Center on Elder Abuse where you can learn how to spot and report abuse, as well as where to get help. Eldercare Services can provide family members with the education and resources needed to combat elder abuse.