What are Senior Elder Abuse Signs and What You Can Do About it

The most recent statistics show that senior abuse is on an all-time high. The latest reports show that about 10% of all the seniors now residing in the states are suffering from one or more forms of abuse. But according to the World Health Organization or WHO, those figures might not be accurate, since there is a very good chance that some cases of senior abuse are not reported to the authorities.

What is senior / elder abuse? Signs and what you can do about it.

It goes by a variety of names: senior abuse, elder abuse, abuse of the elderly, etc. The bottom line is: this is a type of human rights violation directed at older people who may be: infirm, isolated from society, or does not have the energy or resolve anymore to go after the perpetrators of the crime. The WHO states that: senior abuse is a single or repetitive act (or lack of) that occurs within a relationship of trust, which causes distress or harm to an older person. As such, there are 5 forms of known abuses: emotional abuse, financial abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse constitutes everything from trying to frighten the person, isolation, humiliation, harassment, and to taking advantage of the confusion of the elderly. Signs that there is this kind of abuse include: being withdrawn to people who used to be close to them, irrational fear, complaining of helplessness and losing sleep or appetite.

Financial abuse is more prevalent that many people would care to admit. This may include everything from open thievery of the person’s money, withholding their retirement funds or medical claims, dipping into their bank accounts, fraud, illegally acquiring their property, charging expenses into their accounts without their knowledge or permission, and forcing or coercing them to sign checks, documents and other legal papers (e.g. power of attorney.)

Signs to look out for are: a large dip from the bank accounts, their bank statements are sent to a different person or address, checks they have issued have suspicious looking scrawls, personal belongings missing from their homes, bills are backing up, and they may have all these useless and unwanted products lying about that was paid for by their credit.

Neglect can be defined as withholding necessary care to keep the elderly happy and healthy. Not providing essentials like food, water and medicines falls under neglect; refusing to provide the elderly health care, housing or social interaction with friends and family also falls into this category. Some signs of neglect are: dehydration, malnutrition, general state of filthiness, confined in a small living space, and the elderly has no easy access to food, water and bathroom facilities.

Physical abuse ranges anywhere from mistreatment that causes physical discomfort (e.g. force-feeding or withholding bathroom privileges); to unwanted physical contact (slapping, hitting, pushing,); to being subjected to chemical restraints or overmedicating the person. Signs of physical abuse on the elderly include: being perpetually soiled or unkempt, inexplicable onset of bruises or more severe bodily injuries, malnutrition, rope burns, non-healing wounds, and fear or certain person or “activity.”

Sexual abuse is any sexually related behavior, physical or otherwise, that is directed to the elderly without their consent; or in many cases, to people who cannot give their consent. This can come in the forms of fondling, rape, harassment using sexually explicit language, and forcing the person to expose himself or herself. Some signs that this kind of abuse might be happening are: the onset of genital pain, overwhelming sense of irrational shame, injury or infection; and appearance of bruises.

If such is the case, it would be best to talk to the person and ask if he or she needs any form of assistance at all, preferably without his or her caretakers. Some may be reluctant to speak out, and it would be your job to note the signs of abuse. Try to alert the local abuse-against-the-elderly watch guards of the plight of the person, and seek advice from them. Monitor the person’s progress and call the police if you think intervention is needed. However, if you have any suspicions, try not to confront the abuser. This might only endanger the life of the elderly person under his or her care.

Share the Post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related Posts