The idea of elder abuse would be repulsive to most people, but the statistics regarding this terrible act are even more appalling. It is difficult to pin down exact numbers on the effects of elder abuse, but the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 10 percent of all people who are 60 years or older and living at home experience some form of abuse.
When we talk about elder abuse, we are talking about much more than just physical abuse. These numbers are based on the idea that neglect and abuse are the same things, and that financial abuse is leaving seniors impoverished. To add to the problem, there is also plenty of evidence of sexual abuse, abandoning seniors who are unable to care for themselves, and emotional abuse as well.
Who Is Abusing Elders?
There is no one profile of a person who abuses the elderly. Elder abuse can happen in the home and come from either a paid caregiver or family members who are helping to care for their older relative. In some cases, elder abuse can occur from complete strangers who an elderly person may befriend only to have their new friends turn on them.
Obviously, elder abuse is not going to occur in a place where there are a lot of people present, which is one of the reasons it can be so difficult to spot and prevent. In some cases (such as with financial abuse), an elderly person may not realize they have been taken advantage of until it is too late. If you notice the signs of elder abuse, you should want to do what you can to help.
Spotting Elder Abuse
One of the biggest red flags when it comes to elder abuse is the sudden presence of a new person or people who start either spending a lot of time in an elderly person’s home or just move right in. When you pair up this unusual situation with the other signs of elder abuse, it can be easier to put together the whole puzzle and decide to take action.
The list of elder abuse signs includes:
- Sudden cuts or abrasions that the elderly person explains in strange ways
- Inexplicable broken bones or dislocations
- The effects of improper use of medication such as irrational mood changes or a change in physical appearance
- A normally outgoing person suddenly withdrawing from their social life
- Strange behavior such as mumbling, not answering questions, or not making eye contact during conversations
- An elderly person who suddenly denies access to their home to friends and family members
These are the most common elder abuse signs, but you should be watching for anything that may seem strange or out of place for that particular individual. If you hear shouting coming from an elderly person’s home when a caregiver is present, then that can also be a sign of elder abuse.
What To Do If Abuse Is Suspected
Directly confronting an elderly person on your suspicions that they are being abused can be almost pointless. But if you suspect elder abuse, then you have two viable options for getting your elderly friend or family member the help they need.
If you are familiar with the person’s family, then relay your suspicions to members of the family that you trust. If you suspect a family member of abusing an elderly person, then be careful when choosing which friend or family member to talk to. If you are not familiar with the elderly person’s family, then contact a local organization designated to help fight elder abuse. If you cannot find the contact information for such an organization, then call your local authorities and tell them of your suspicions.
Elderly abuse used to not be a priority among police precincts around the country. However, in recent years, support organizations have been set up to stop the elderly abuse that works closely with the local police. If you suspect elder abuse, then do not turn away. You may be the only person who can make that phone call that sets an abused elderly person free from their torment.
Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.