It’s not a comfortable topic. It would be nice if this topic never had to come up at all. Unfortunately, elder abuse is rampant and needs to be discussed.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can typically be characterized by five different categories. A senior who has suffered abuse will fit in at least one, if not two or three, of these categories.
- Physical: This form of abuse can be (but is not always) the easiest to detect as it will leave the senior with bruising, burns, broken bones, etc.
- Emotional: This type of abuse means the senior has been verbally threatened, belittled, intimated, or harassed.
- Financial: When a senior has been cheated out of his money or his caregiver uses it without permission, even stealing the money, abuse has occurred.
- Sexual: This is when a senior is touched inappropriately, or forced to do or watch sex acts.
- Neglect: This form of abuse is found when basic needs aren’t met on a regular basis, such as feeding and bathing.
Facts About Elder Abuse
Here’s the scary truth about elder abuse: 60% of elder abuse is by the hand of a family member. While it can happen anywhere, right at home with a spouse, adult child, or other family members, is the most common place.
The best way to stop abuse in its tracks is to know the facts about elder abuse. It’s not easy to identify elder abuse because of other health issues a senior may be dealing with. Abuse can be hard to define if they have a form of dementia that can muddle up the facts, or they’re on a medication causing them to lose weight, or their muscle weakness results in falls, or a whole host of other circumstances. Nonetheless, abuse happens much more than any of us care to admit. It’s time to become aware and take action.
Here are some sobering facts about elder abuse:
- It is estimated that 1 in 10 seniors experience some form of abuse.
- Only 1 out of 5 abuse crimes are reported.
- An abused senior may not ever report what they’ve experienced.
- Many victims are dependent on their abuser for basic needs.
- Seniors who have been abused are at much higher risk of premature death.
- Estimated costs of elder financial abuse is between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion annually.
Signs of Elder Abuse
If you notice any of these signs while spending time with your loved one, seek immediate help:
- Physical: bruises, burns, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions
- Emotional: a sudden change in behavior, depression, unexplained withdrawal, strained relationships, frequent arguments between the senior and his caregiver.
- Financial: suddenly unable to pay for essentials when it wasn’t a problem in the past.
- Sexual: agitation, signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, engaging in unusual sexual activities, pelvic injury, bruising or bleeding.
- Neglect: poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, bedsores, unattended medical needs.
You can find help and healing from the horrific events of abuse. Be an advocate for your loved one by being aware of the warning signs of abuse, and by taking action to stop elder abuse in its tracks.