It’s important that all Americans are able to detect elder abuse and neglect and report it. The frail and elderly senior citizens among us deserve our protection. Being able to spot the signs is important for the family and friends of senior citizens.
Most elder abuse victims are over the age of 80. Many of the victims are shut ins and are isolated. Many lack resources or support in the community and are dependent on others financially, emotionally and physically. Some of the victims live in their own homes or in a caretaker’s home. Many live in long term care settings such as nursing homes or adult family homes.
Statistics show that the perpetrators are often the caregivers of the elderly. Most perpetrators are between the age of 30 and 61 years old and 50 percent are family members and 50 percent are paid employees such as certified nursing assistants, nurses or other staff.
Forms of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can take man forms including:
- Physical abuse — hitting slapping punching. It can also include withholding food or care.
- Emotional abuse –name calling, berating, verbal abuse and intimidation.
- Sexual abuse — rape, inappropriate touching or sexual harassment.
- Neglect — by self because of impairment or by a caregiver. Some elderly are no longer to care for themselves which can threaten their well-being or health. Sometimes the caregiver withholds medical treatment or basic treatment such as hygiene.
- Exploitation — is when the perpetrator financially takes advantage of an elderly person. Examples of this include people who take money or possessions from an older person or those who enter into contracts with an elderly person that are not valid because the elder has mental impairment and is unable to enter into the contract.
Signs of Physical Abuse or Neglect
- Broken bones
- Depression or behavior change
- Urinary tract infection
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unexplained bruises
Many times victims do not report the abuse because they are unable to communicate or because they are ashamed or fear their abuser. In a nursing home setting, health care workers are required to report any suspected elder abuse but sometimes they don’t because they fear losing their job.
Many types of citizens do come forward and report abuse. Sometimes it is a neighbor, a friend, a bank teller or an attorney. If you believe an elderly person that you know is being neglect or abused, check our Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Resources. There are many agencies that can help you. If the person you know is seriously injured, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney who can help provide legal protection for the victim.