How to Identify Elder Abuse

Oct 12, 2016

About four percent of elderly people in our population struggle against abuse. The government and dedicated organizations are working to address this issue. For example, state agencies conduct background checks and list abusers who are prohibited from working with older people. However, until everybody knows abuse when they see it, we won’t make much progress in putting it to an end.

Anyone can support the drive to protect the rights of our aging family members. First, learn about the different types of abuse: physical, sexual, financial, emotional/psychological, and neglect.

  • Physical Abuse. Among all types, this is the easiest to see. Perpetrators of physical abuse literally use their physical strength. Physical abuse includes violent acts such as hitting, slapping, beating, or restraining someone. These acts can cause bruises, sprains, fractures, and wounds. Although these signs might be attributed to other factors, it is always wise to suspect potential abuse when the victims are older people.
  • Sexual Abuse. It may sound absurd, but elders are not free from sexual abuse such as unwanted touching and rape. Unexplained bleeding or infection of private parts should cause suspicion.
  • Financial Abuse. Forcing an old person to sign financial documents (e.g. powers of attorney) or cashing their checks without authorization are clear signs of abuse. A concerned family member should closely observe for any abrupt change in banking practices, such as unusual or unauthorized withdrawal of money. Moreover, if a person doesn’t seem healthy even though she has money available for health care, this can also be a sign that her finances are being abused.
  • Psychological/Emotional Abuse. Establishing this form of abuse is challenging because older people can be emotionally sensitive. They may easily get upset, agitated, or socially withdrawn. However, these can be signs of psychological abuse rather as a sign of normal aging. It is important to watch for negative behaviors from others, such as insults, threats, and harassment.
  • This entails a person’s refusal or intentional failure to provider necessities of living (e.g. proper nutrition, quality healthcare, comfort and safety). Typically, the signs of neglect include malnutrition, untreated illness, and substandard living condition.

These signs and symptoms help us identify potential abuse and get help before the situation gets worse. If you suspect elder abuse, do something. Report it to any of the following: police, district attorney’s office, or dedicated agencies such as Adult/Elderly Protective Services and local/regional Area Agency on Aging. Or you can simply call 911!

If you or a loved one have been affected by elderly abuse, contact our office today for a free consultation. Complete our online contact form today.

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