Elder Abuse Hurts
It is estimated that each year one of every 23 elderly Americans is a victim of abuse. Many older people are afraid to report incidences of neglect or mistreatment because those who are inflicting the abuse may be caretakers known to them, their family members, or significant other.
Elder abuse takes many forms, some of which are seemingly more subtle than others. What most people don’t realize about elder abuse is the many ways it is manifested, why it is perpetuated, and what steps to take to deal with it.
A clearer understanding of elder abuse is the first step toward prevention, and intervention. For further assistance, call your Elderly Crime Victims Resource located in your area usually within the metropolitan areas.
There Are Many Forms of abuse towards the elderly, elder abuse is not just as simple (and horrible) as hitting an older person. It is carried out in many ways besides physical pain or injury.
Here are some of the most common ways the elderly are abused:
• Psychological and or Emotional Abuse: mental anguish and despair caused by name calling, insulting, ignoring, threatening, isolating, demeaning, and or controlling behavior.
• Financial Abuse: illegal or unethical exploitation and/or use of the elder persons cash, credit cards, funds or other assets of the elderly.
• Physical Abuse: slapping, bruising, sexual coercion, cutting, burning, forcibly restraining.
• Neglect: the refusal or failure to carry out a caretaking responsibility such as withholding food, medicine, and or aids such as (glasses, dentures) and or complete abandonment.
It is important to know that elder abuse is exhibited in many ways.
One of the most commonly reported forms is the simultaneous occurrence of psychological and financial abuse. There Are Many Signs of Elderly Abuse and clues to the possible presence of elder abuse can be detected in certain physical traits and behavior.
Here are some warning signals:
• New and unexplained bruises, cuts or burns
• Dehydrated or malnourished appearance, pasty or pale skin color
• Overly medicated or overly sedated
• Indications of unusual confinement (closed off in a room; tied to furniture; change in routine activity)
• Lack of cleanliness, grooming, stench or bad smell
• Fear of speaking for oneself in the presence of a caregiver; overly anxious to please
• Anxiety, confusion, withdrawal, depression
• Shame, fear, embarrassment
• Sudden withdrawals or closing of bank accounts
Signs Of The Abusive Caregiver
• Threatening remarks and/or behavior
• Conflicting stories
• Insults, aggressive behavior
• Withholding of attention, security, affection
• Attitude of indifference or anger toward the older person
• Unusual fatigue, depression
• Obvious absence of assistance, or attendance
• Problems with alcohol and or drugs
• Previous history of abusive behavior
There Are Many Psychodynamics in Elder Abuse the person who is abusive may suffer from external pressures and psychological stress, and or even mental illness, or the debilitating effects of substance abuse.
Here are some specific influences:
• Substance abuse – alcohol, drugs or both
• Dependency on the older person for emotional support and financial assistance such as money, housing or food, all of which contribute to conflict in the home
• Emotional problems such as resentment of being responsible for the wellbeing of the elderly; retaliation against the older relative for past mistreatment; lack of basic caring and or feelings in the relationship
• External stress such as crowded housing conditions, unemployment, financial difficulties, illness, divorce, and death can add enormously to the tensions of caretaking
• History of abusive family behavior or other hostile behavior patterns can predispose a caregiver to acting out this anger, especially under stress
There Are Many Ways to Challenge Elder Abuse
No one should be reluctant to report evidence of elder abuse, no matter who is doing it!
Any problems or questions you may have about suspected elder abuse will be discussed in complete confidentiality when you call the Department for the Aging’s Elderly Crime Victims Resource Center.
They can also link you with the following community resources:
• Case management services
• Protective services
• Support counseling services
• Victims’ services network
• Police services
• District Attorney’s offices
• Legal services specializing in the elderly
As always if you’re in danger or know of someone who is in immediate danger of abuse, immediately call 911. For questions that are not immediate please leave a comment and I will answer your comment/question online in the comments section.