When the Shadows Grow Longer: 5 Types of Elder Abuse You Should Take Note Of
When our elderly loved ones age beyond where they can fend for themselves, they often end up in the care of relatives or facilities. The goal of this is obviously so that they can be provided the necessities of living that keep them safe and as healthy as possible.
Sadly, the truth is that many of these elderly dependents are abused or neglected by those who signed on to care for them, whether it is a relative or a nursing home. Instead of living out their final years safely and with respect, they are taken advantage of financially, left in unhygienic situations, and otherwise ignored, neglected, or worse.
Elder abuse is a serious issue and there are often red flags that you can spot that will help you take note of the situation and take steps to stop it. Here are 5 types of elder abuse that you should be aware of.
Elder Abuse – What to Watch For
Abuse is not just physical, and elder abuse happens more likely than most people expect. In fact, the National Center on Elder Abuse cites statistics that show that, even though studies in this field have multiple challenges that make it difficult to collect accurate data, at least 10% of elderly people have experienced some form of elder abuse in at least one of the following formats:
- Physical abuse. When someone intentionally harms an elder person in a way that results in some form of physical pain, including injuries or impairments, this is considered physical abuse. The definition has been expanded beyond physical assault to include inappropriately providing medication or drugs, restraining an elder, or confining them to a solitary place.
This kind of abuse can be difficult to detect, particularly if the caregiver is keeping the adult confined or they are in a nursing home without many visitors. However, if you observe consistent bruising or injuries or see that the elder adult is scared or nervous around his or her caregiver, you should take notice.
- Emotional elder abuse. Emotional abuse can be in the form of threats and humiliation, or neglect and isolation. The caregiver may even intimidate the adult person in such a way that they fear them.
Spotting emotional abuse is not as simple as looking for a bruise. Instead, look for elders who demonstrate apathy or withdrawal from life. They may also exhibit signs of nervousness such as ongoing rocking. The caregiver may visually yell at or threaten the elder person, or you may not see someone that used to participate in regular activities but is now being isolated.
- Elder neglect. When someone steps in as a caretaker for an elder adult who can no longer take care of themselves, certain responsibilities are assumed. Elder neglect occurs when that caretaker fails to fulfill those responsibilities.
Signs of this may include the elder wearing dirty clothes, having soiled diapers, and keeping a messy home. Bedsores are common in neglected people in nursing homes, as is unusual and drastic weight loss. If someone needs medical aids like glasses or other necessities but they are not provided them, their care is likely being neglected.
- Sexual elder abuse. Sadly, this happens to our loved ones and they often can’t protect themselves or report it.
Signs of elder sexual abuse include bruising around the breasts or genitals, bleeding in the rectal or vaginal area, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, withdrawal from others, and inappropriate touching or flirting by the caregiver.
- Financial abuse/exploitation. This occurs when a caregiver or outside scammer takes advantage of an elder. Caregivers are given a position of authority and trust in the household, and some use it to their financial advantage.
Signs of financial abuse are when a caregiver forges the elderly person’s signature, misuses their checks or credit cards, or gains access to their accounts, cash, income checks, or even their household things without permission.
Protect Those Who Can’t Protect Themselves
Elder abuse is a serious issue. If you notice any of these red flags occurring with any of the elderly that you know, stand up for them and report it to their loved ones or your authorities.