Senior abuse is a form of abuse and mistreatment of individuals who are over the age of 65. Elder abuse may go unnoticed because those abused often verbalize their feelings to avoid being disrespectful. Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, and it can happen without the consent of the person being abused. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of how senior abuse can affect not only an individual but also how it affects their family members, caregivers, and society. It's also crucial to know how to report senior abuse, so let's go over that.
There are many types of senior abuse; let’s go over them.
Physical abuse is the most frequently reported form of elder abuse. Types of physical elder abuse include but are not limited to:
Emotional abuse is defined as any behavior that causes damage or harm to the emotional well-being of the older adult. For example, the older adult may feel humiliated, scared, threatened, or controlled. Emotional abuse is usually associated with an act inflicted by an older abuser against an older victim. Mental health treatment is recommended for individuals who have a mental illness and are being verbally abused.
Sexual abuse by a family member or caregiver is more common than one might think. If a family member, relative, or caregiver is sexually abusing the older individual, it may be challenging to recognize the behavior. However, it is essential to be aware of the signs and act on any suspicions to prevent sexual abuse.
Financial scams, theft, and fraud abuse are also reported as elder abuse. The most common types of financial abuse include financial exploitation (illegal or deceptive collection practices) and neglect of finances. Financial manipulation is a form of elder abuse that includes forcing older adults to make decisions for themself or changing their minds about making major financial decisions.
This type of elder abuse is when a caregiver, friend, family member, or stranger prevents an older adult from obtaining the basic needs of life. It can include inadequate food, clothing, shelter, or forced isolation due to lack of transportation or facilities. Neglect includes some of the following:
There are many signs and red flags to look for when you’re concerned about senior abuse.
This type of elder abuse includes preventing an older adult from leaving home, attending social events and groups, or being prevented from leaving the house.
Signs of confusion include forgetfulness, forgetting important information, or having trouble performing daily activities. The disorder is found in the elderly when they are experiencing a change in routine, such as traveling to a new place and sharing more than one change of caregivers.
If an older adult is not bathing, changing their clothes, or keeping their nails trimmed and neat, they may be experiencing elder abuse.
Anytime an older adult has injuries inconsistent with their stories of how they occurred, you should immediately report your concerns.
This elder abuse includes sudden mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
Bruises or marks that are unreasonably placed on an older adult's body should be reported immediately.
Changes in physical appearance that are not associated with health problems, such as weight gain or loss without a reasonable explanation, can be signs of abuse.
If you notice your loved one is having financial difficulties that they do not have any control over, it may be a sign of financial abuse or fraud.
Whether you’re sure there’s abuse or even if you’re cornered, here's how to report senior abuse:
Signs of elder abuse are not an easy thing to recognize. The signs are subtle, hard to detect, and may not be noticed immediately. They may not even be seen until after the abuse has occurred. Once you suspect there's abuse, it's time to take action.
Acting on the signs of abuse should be done immediately. If an older person is abused, their safety and well-being are jeopardized. Therefore, you must immediately call law enforcement if concerned about their safety.
You can make a report to any law enforcement agency by simply calling 911 and providing details about the abuse that was experienced and who perpetrated it.
If an older adult is not feeling well and needs medical attention, it is essential to inform their primary care physician or other providers. They may require immediate medical attention.
Allowing an older adult to live with you and younger siblings, care for them, and treat them like their own child, is the best way to ensure a safe and secure environment. However, if there are concerns about your loved one's safety, take action immediately. Find out what services are available for older adults who are being abused and how to report elder abuse.
The best way to stop elder abuse is to report it to the authorities. The more abusers we can get behind bars, the more people we can help. By knowing what signs of abuse to look out for, what steps you can take when they are identified and how to report elder abuse, you will successfully advocate for the elderly.
Collecting all of the necessary evidence is going to be very important in your report. Having evidence allows the courts to support your claims and prosecute offenders; they cannot prosecute offenders without evidence. So if you want your abusers to be charged, collecting as much evidence as possible would be wise. It may include audio recordings, taking pictures of injuries, and filing a police report.
Senior abuse should never happen. Especially in nursing homes, which receive millions of dollars of federal aid. Here are just some of the impacts of senior abuse in nursing homes.
Violently and consistently abusing an older adult can lead to health problems such as malnutrition, lack of adequate shelter, and exposure to infectious diseases. All of which may result in physical, emotional, and mental illness. For example, if an older adult is being physically abused, they may develop chronic pain and muscle cramps due to the impact of the abuse on their body. Continuous abuse can sometimes lead to a disability or life-threatening illness.
By not allowing older adults to access money or their bank accounts, the abuser is preventing them from meeting their basic needs.
Not allowing an older adult to connect with family and to live near loved ones can result in depression that leads to chronic stress, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. It is also possible that if the abuse is constant, there can be long-term emotional damage.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, they can receive services and support by talking to law enforcement. From there, a case worker might be assigned. When a case of elder abuse is made, it can result in felony charges against the abuser. In addition, it can prevent them from continuing to abuse their victims.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused, it can lead to isolation from family and others. It can lead to depression and isolation from friends and support systems. But, you can help keep their social connections healthy by taking action.
Not allowing an older adult to contact the outside world can cause severe depression, loneliness, stress, and agitation, leading to life-long mental illness for some.
Here are some tips on helping prevent senior abuse in nursing homes if you’re a loved one or a nursing home.
It will help you be aware of what behaviors may be considered abuse. If you see any of these behaviors in your loved one, it is essential to take action immediately; if you do not know what signs or symptoms to look out for can make it difficult to recognize abuse immediately, resulting in more severe injuries or even death. Educating yourself can help keep your loved one safe and comfortable.
Many types of abuse can be inflicted on an older adult, such as physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse. Knowing what kind of abuse could be inflicted is essential because it will allow you to recognize it and call for help immediately if needed.
By establishing living wills and power of attorney, all the decisions your loved one needs to be protected will be in their best interest. Having these documents finalized makes it essential that they know you are willing to take action and protect them if possible.
If your loved one is being abused, there are several places and organizations you can go to for help, such as the police, Victim Services, hospitals, and the local government. You must take action and call upon these services if they are needed. If you love your family member, getting them the help they need is worth it.
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused, one of the first things you should do is share your concerns with other individuals that are close to them. Doing this can lead to a coalition and help prevent the abuse from continuing or starting.
Elderly Abuse in California is a growing concern. However, elder abuse is preventable. Following the steps in this article and spreading the word can help prevent elder abuse. Ensure that you have informed the right people about your concerns and have not ignored them. Being proactive in preventing elder abuse can help protect your family and caretakers.
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