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The Eldercare Advocate Elder Abuse: An Unfortunate Reality

February 5, 2020|abuse, abusers, advocacy, Aging Parents, caregivers, confinement, Depression, deprivation, Dignity, elder abuse, elder abuse penalties, elder justice, Eldercare, emotional abuse, financial abuse, food and medications, Generations, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Isolation, Loneliness, neglect, physical abuse, prevention, psychological abuse, Quality Care, Quality of Life, Respect, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, violence, Well-Being,


The statistics for elder abuse in the United States are staggering. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in ten adults over the age of 60 has experienced some form of abuse. Approximately one in fourteen cases of abuse are reported to authorities. There are estimates that approximately five million older adults are abused each year in the United States.


What constitutes elder abuse?

Elder abuse can be defined as intentional actions inflicted on an elder to cause harm or create a serious risk of harm, or failure to protect the elder from harm or meet the elder’s basic needs[1] is a violation of the fundamental right to safety and freedom from violence and requires urgent social action.[2]

Abuse against an elder is no different that abuse against any other person at any age and includes psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and financial, exploitation, neglect and abandonment.


Who are the abusers of our elders?

Both male and female adult children, spouses, other family members, and agency caregivers, in the community. Oftentimes, stress experienced by caregivers, especially family members, plays a role in elder abuse. However, abusers can include staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities or even adult day community service centers. Statistics report that approximately two thirds of all perpetrators of abuse against elders are family members, usually either an adult child or spouse.

Some of the most vulnerable adults who become victims of abuse are those persons who are socially isolated, have a physical or mental disability or cognitive impairment; such as  Alzheimer’s Disease or other type of dementia.

According to the National Council on Aging, “Elders who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated”.[3] Financial abuse and fraud against older Americans reportedly ranges anywhere from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually, though the actual amount is suspected to be greater. Despite the high number of older adults who are more likely to die as a result of abuse, financial exploitation is more often reported than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.


Who are the most vulnerable or susceptible to elder abuse?

Reports indicate than more than 65% of victims of elder abuse are women


How do you characterize the different types of abuse? [4]


Sexual:

Touching, fondling, intercourse of any other unwanted sexual encounter. Older adults who are especially vulnerable are those who are unable to understand or consent. 


Emotional:

Verbal assaults or threats of abuse, harassment and intimidation

Confinement: restraining or isolating. Although there may be situations medical conditions when a person may need to be confined.


Neglect:

This would include a caregiver who is not providing an older adult with the necessities for daily living or survival: food, clothing, shelter or medical care.


Willful deprivation:

When an older adult is denied medication, medical treatment, shelter, food, any necessary therapeutic equipment of physical assistance which may risk physical, mental or emotional harm.


Financial:

Misusing or withholding an older adult’s financial resources.


How do you recognize abuse?

Physical abuse or mistreatment: Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, burns.