This past Saturday, June 15th, was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The day is an important opportunity to raise awareness about elder abuse and as the senior population worldwide grows it is becoming especially important to know the signs of abuse.
What is elder abuse? According to The National Council on Aging “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 living, and other facilities."
Here are some things you should know about elder abuse:
(1) There may be more than 5 million elder abuse victims in the United States. It is estimated that at least 1 in 10 adults 60+ experience some sort of abuse.
(2) Elder abuse can take place in the home where the senior lives. It can also happen in institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities. According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, 5.1% of nursing home complaints in 2013 were for neglect, abuse or exploitation.
(3) The various forms of Elder Abuse include:
- Physical abuse which includes inflicting physical pain or injury upon an older adult.
- Sexual abuse which includes 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 which includes verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation.
- Confinement which includes 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 includes the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another.
(4) According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, the breakdown of elder abuse complaints are as follows:
- 27.4% – Physical abuse
- 19.4% – Psychological abuse
- 15.3% – Gross neglect
- 7.9% – Sexual abuse
- 7.9% – Financial exploitation
(5) Seniors who have experienced elder abuse have a 300% higher risk of death in the next 3 years compared to those who were not abused.
(6) Often times victims must rely on their abuser for basic needs and care and in nearly 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.
(7) Social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) are two common risk factors. Recent studies show that nearly half of those with dementia experienced abuse or neglect.
(8) The National Council of Aging explains some signs of elder abuse include:
- Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression; strained or tense relationships; frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult
- Sudden changes in financial situations
- Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss
- Belittling, threats, or other uses of power and control by individuals
(10) If an older adult is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call 911. Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact a local Adult Protective Services office, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or police.
Social isolation is a risk factor for elder abuse. H.O.M.E. helps low-income seniors stay connected to their community through our housing and housing support services.
When low-income seniors live in stable, affordable housing with community support, they thrive. We believe that the human element is essential to our model. Serving seniors with warmth, connection, and joy is our particular expertise. You can join us with a gift today.
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