According to the most recent Bain Report(Source: National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Statistics) 5,961,568 people were victims of elder abuse. Approximately one out of every 14 cases of elderly abuse occurs in a domestic setting such as the victim’s home. The available elderly abuse statistics further estimates that over five million elders may be the victims of financial exploitation annually, though actual reported figures cannot confirm this.
Elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. The specificity of laws varies from state to state, but broadly defined, abuse may be:
- Physical Abuse – Inflicting, or threatening to inflict, physical pain or injury on a vulnerable elder, or depriving them of a basic need.
- Emotional Abuse – Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts.
- Sexual Abuse – Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
- Exploitation – Illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder.
- Neglect – Refusal or failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care or protection for a vulnerable elder.
- Abandonment – The desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
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Detecting the signs of elder abuse is very important. Just like child abuse, you must look for the warning signs and be aware and alert. One sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
- Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
- Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
- Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.
The most important thing to do is: Be Alert.
The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on. If you need help contact your local Department for the aging or dial 1-800-677-1116.
You can also visit The National Center For Elder Abuse & Aging. They have national resource team
There is help!