There are certain members of society who are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The elderly are among this group. Sadly, 1 in 10 senior citizens has experienced elder abuse.
There are few things more abhorrent than abusing an elderly person, yet it happens more frequently than anyone cares to talk about. The shame and discomfort surrounding the topic and making it taboo help perpetuate the problem. The best way to prevent elder abuse is to stay informed and connected.
For help identifying elder abuse and figuring out what to do about it, read the information below.
What Is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is abuse that happens to someone over the age of 60. This abuse can occur in many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Willful deprivation
Physical and sexual abuse are pretty self-explanatory. Emotional abuse can be much harder to identify, as psychological trauma is not visible. Emotional abuse also includes confinement, or forcibly isolating an elderly person.
While neglect needs little explanation, self-neglect is not common knowledge. This occurs when an elderly person puts themselves in harm’s way. It often occurs with elderly people who have mental impairments.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Some forms of elder abuse are easier to spot than others. Some common signs are:
- Unkempt or unhygienic appearance
- Unexplained physical trauma
- Obvious lack of medical care
- Poor living conditions
- Agitation or violence
- Financial problems
- Sleeping problems
- Weight loss
The first step after recognizing the signs is to talk to the elderly person themselves. They may be afraid or ashamed and unwilling to open up, in which case you should immediately report it.
How to Report It
There are local, state, and national organizations that exist to protect elderly people. For an urgent threat to their life, you can call 911.
Every state has there own Adult Protective Services that can be found on this map. There are also Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs that advocates for elderly residents in various kinds of homes.
How to Prevent It
It is never an individual’s fault when they are abused; however, there are a few measures a person can take to make themselves less of a target.
One of the best ways is for elderly people to maintain social relationships. Regular family visits and keeping friends nearby helps ensure that someone notices when something goes awry.
If you know any elderly people, help keep them informed of the latest scams. Scamming methods change rapidly over time and it can be difficult for the elderly to keep abreast of their latest techniques.
Elder abuse is too often overlooked and ignored by society. In fact, elderly people themselves are too often forgotten. If you have elderly people in your life, help inform them, and take proactive steps to prevent elder abuse before it happens.
To learn more about the overlooked social problems plaguing the country, make sure o check out our page.