What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted the living, and other facilities.
Physical abuse means inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
Sexual abuse means touching, fondling, intercourse, or any other sexual activity with an older adult, when the older adult is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.
Emotional abuse means verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
Confinement means restraining or isolating an older adult, other than for medical reasons.
Passive neglect is a caregiver’s failure to provide an older adult with life’s necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. Willful deprivation means denying an older adult medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, and exposing that person to the risk of physical, mental, or emotional harm—except when the older, competent adult has expressed a desire to go without such care.
Financial exploitation means the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.
Signs of Abuse of the Elderly or People with Disabilities
Abuse may cause various injuries such as scratches, cuts, bruises, burns, broken bones, or bedsores. It can also result in confinement, rape or sexual misconduct, and verbal or psychological abuse.
Neglect may cause starvation, dehydration, over- or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, lack of personal hygiene. Neglected adults may also not have heat, running water, electricity, medical care.
Exploitation may result in loss of property, money, or income. Exploitation means misusing the resources of an elderly or disabled person for personal or monetary benefit. This includes taking Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) checks, misusing a joint checking account, or taking property and other resources.
Sometimes adults who are 65 years old or older or those who have disabilities may become isolated or ill and not have someone who is willing and able to help meet their basic needs.
How can elder abuse be prevented?
Educating seniors, professionals, caregivers, and the public on abuse is critical to prevention. If you’re an older adult, you can stay safe by:
Taking care of your health.
Seeking professional help for drug, alcohol, and depression concerns and urging family members to get help for these problems. Attending support groups for spouses and learning about domestic violence services.
Planning for your own future. With a power of attorney or a living will, you can address health care decisions now to avoid confusion and family problems later. Seek independent advice from someone you trust before signing any documents.
Staying active in the community and connected with friends and family. This will decrease social isolation, which has been connected to elder abuse. Posting and opening your own mail.
Not giving personal information over the phone.
Using direct deposit for all checks.
Having your own phone.
Reviewing your will periodically.
Knowing your rights. If you engage the services of a paid or family caregiver, you have the right to voice your preferences and concerns. If you live in a nursing home, call your Long Term Care Ombudsman.
The ombudsman is your advocate and has the power to intervene.
Elderly Abuse Facts Link