How can you tell if an elderly member of your family is experiencing abuse?
Cases of elderly abuse are frequently covered up. Such abuse can be in the form of financial loss, physical harm, and more. Victims might hide the warning signs out of concern for what might happen if their abuser finds out. There are even times that the victims might not be aware that they are actually being abused by an offender.
Families can better protect their loved ones from harm by becoming aware of all the signs of elder abuse.
What is Elderly Abuse?
Any act that hurts an elderly person and is committed by a person they know and trust is considered elderly abuse. The abuse is frequently done on purpose for the benefit of the offender. It can take many different forms, making it difficult to identify.
An older person may suffer from abuse in various ways, from the negative psychological impacts of verbal abuse to intentionally committed physical harm. Perpetrators may be any member of the victim’s family, like a partner or spouse, a sibling, an adult daughter or son, a grandchild, or someone outside the household, like a friend or a neighbor.
What Are the Signs of Elderly Abuse?
Strange and abrupt changes to an elderly loved one’s emotional, physical, or psychological wellbeing are the most common warning signs of abuse. Depending on what the victim is experiencing, different signs and symptoms may be seen.
- Bruises, wounds, injuries, cuts, etc.
- Malnutrition or weight loss
- Poor personal hygiene
- Confusion, despair, anxiety, or depression
- Unexplained financial transactions or losses
- Withdrawal or seclusion symptoms from family members or friends
Different Types of Elderly Abuse
Any act of cruelty that results in bodily harm or injury is considered physical abuse. This form of maltreatment sees an elderly victim being punched, shoved, kicked, burned, tied, locked in a room, or given medication that the doctor hasn’t recommended. The abuse manifests as obvious wounds, and the victim usually does not want to get their wounds examined by a doctor out of fear of continued abuse.
When an older person is coerced into having intercourse with someone else, sexual abuse is committed against the elderly. It may involve rape, unwanted touching, or forcing the victim to watch pornography or take off their clothes. Manifestations of this type of abuse can be both visible and invisible, such as bloody clothes and underwear, bruises around the body, or sexually transmitted diseases.
Emotional harm can be done to a person when someone makes threats against them, yells at them, uses derogatory language, ignores them repeatedly, or controls what they do and who they interact with. The effects can take form in the victim’s unexplained attitude, sleeping trouble, fear, sadness, and loss of interest in their leisure activities. Keep an eye out for changes in your loved one’s behavior towards you and other people as these may be signs of psychological trauma.
This type of abuse happens when an elderly’s money, assets, or property are exposed to a threat. It can be something like them being forced to make changes to a will testament or a power of attorney. It can also be in the form of forgery, especially of their signatures, using their credit card or withdrawing money from their bank accounts without their express consent, and overcharging for medical bills or home repairs.
Neglect, or the abandonment of an elderly’s basic needs is a type of abuse. It can be by not providing them with enough food, water, clothing, and medications. There is obvious neglect if the elderly aren’t receiving proper care. SIgns of neglect include weight loss, messy and unclean clothes, and broken glasses, walkers, or hearing aids.
You should keep an eye on the many indications of elder abuse and neglect, especially if your elderly loved one is currently receiving care from an in-home caregiver, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.
Risk Factors of Elderly Abuse
While any person can experience abuse, the elderly are more likely in danger due to the risk factors involved.
Adults over the age of 60 are more prone to experience elder abuse, according to a study conducted by the World Health Organization.
A care provider is more prone to mistreat an elderly person if they have a criminal history, depend on them financially, or abuse prohibited drugs. To prevent abuse, it’s important to carefully screen your potential caregivers and check their background.
Elderly women are more likely to experience abuse, especially if placed in institutional settings like nursing homes or long-term facility care.
The National Council on Aging reports on a study that says nearly half of those with dementia or poor physical and mental health have been victims of abuse and neglect.
Reports from the Pew Research Center say that 27% of Americans aged 60 and up live alone, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and maltreatment not necessarily by their immediate family members, but possibly by neighbors.
How to Prevent Elderly Abuse
One way to protect your elderly from abuse is to keep them in the best possible physical, mental, and social health. Taking small steps to keep them safe, including regularly checking up on them and socially engaging with them, can make a big difference. Seniors who are active in their assisted living communities and have close friendships there are less likely to be isolated or lonely, lessening their risks of being exploited.
Even those who have loved ones in a nursing home still have ways to protect them from abuse. Just by regularly making phone calls to talk to them; expressing concerns about birthdays, anniversaries, family weekend picnics, or other celebrations may boost their spirits.
Take Immediate Action Against Elderly Abuse
There is a high likelihood that someone may mistreat or exploit an elderly person. Never ignore warning signs of elderly abuse. Family members should keep a watchful eye to prevent it. By thoroughly investigating and looking out for warning signs, you can help protect an elderly person from abuse and mistreatment.
If you believe your loved one is at risk, take action now and contact us to help you conduct thorough investigations on elder abuse.