Home > Prevention & Precautionary Steps For Seniors > Recognizing and Reporting Elder Abuse – The Shocking Statistics

Recognizing and Reporting Elder Abuse – The Shocking Statistics

The Senate Special Committee on Aging reports the shocking estimate that there may be as many as 5 million elder victims of abuse every year. The term “elder abuse” is broadly defined and can refer to several kinds of abuse that helpless senior citizens suffer at the hands of those charged with their care.

Recognize the Different Kinds of Elder Abuse

Physical Abuse

Friends and relatives of seniors who live at home or who reside in nursing homes, assisted living, independent living and hospice facilities, and the caregivers, who work there, should be vigilant in observing signs of physical abuse. Bruising, cuts and abrasions are signs to look for. While signs of physical abuse are more apparent, emotional abuse comes in many forms and is much more difficult to identify.

Psychological or Emotional Abuse

Ask the senior citizen if their caretaker denies them access to food, television or the telephone as a means to coerce them into certain behavior. This can be a sign of psychological abuse. Recognizing elder neglect is also important. Denying a senior citizen food, medication, air conditioning or clothing through malicious intent or neglect is punishable under elder abuse laws. Ask questions to see if a caretaker is meeting the basic living needs of the senior.

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Financial Abuse

Investigate and keep close watch on a senior’s finances to see if he or she is a victim of financial abuse. See if any credit cards or checking accounts have been opened in their name without their knowledge. Make sure if they have a Will or Living Trust that it hasn’t been altered to name a fraudulent heir.

Sexual Abuse

Check for sexual abuse by asking a senior citizen if they have been coerced into any sexual activity. Strange as it may seem, sexual abuse of senior citizens is being reported with greater frequency. Sexual abuse doesn’t just refer to sexual intercourse, but also any unwanted sexual advances.

What to Do : Take Action and Report Suspected Elder Abuse

Remove the senior citizen from the care of an abuser. They will be much more likely to discuss instances of abuse or neglect once they have been removed from the care of their abuser. Get detailed accounts of all offenses they’ve endured. Keep detailed records. Take photos or videos to substantiate any abuse claims. If you are a caregiver at the facility and think a resident is being abused, alert family members. Often times, family members are unaware that an elderly relative has been the victim of abuse. Report your findings to the proper authorities. Your local police department may have a special division or contact person for issues of elder abuse. Most states have hotlines to report such abuses, but after trying throughout the day to reach a toll-free number in California and getting a busy signal, I would recommend calling your local police department. In the event of an emergency, dial 911.

Side Note:

In some states, the denial of civil or constitutional rights can also qualify as elder abuse, provided the victim has not been declared mentally incapacitated. Some states also define self-neglect as a form of elder abuse. Presently, there are only 16 states in the country that mandate the reporting of elder abuse crimes. Failure to report elder abuse can be considered a misdemeanor.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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