Elder abuse is an act of commission or omission that jeopardizes the well-being or safety of an elderly individual. The maltreatment of the elder may occur in the home and may include the following dimensions: physical abuse; emotional abuse; neglect and/or deprivation; material or sexual exploitation.
Types of Abuse
infliction of physical pain or bodily harm, including beating, hitting, pushing or restraining.
verbal put downs and insults, including yelling or name calling.
- Emotional Abuse
infliction of mental anguish; including, threatening; humiliating; intimidating; isolation; and/or inflicting fear or threatening imminent harm or bodily injury.
- Financial Abuse/Exploitation
illegal or improper exploitation of funds or other resources; including, stealing money or property or committing fraud through undue influence.
refusal or failure to fulfill a care taking obligation; including, abandonment, isolation, and/or failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care.
Elders, on the average, are more isolated than younger adults, because victims are sometimes confined to their homes or dependent on persons who are abusing them. This isolation often allows violent behavior to continue unchecked.
- Due to societal attitudes, many elderly individuals are too embarrassed to admit they raised a child capable of such behavior.
- Elderly people, who are physically, emotionally or economically dependent on their abusers, may be unsure of what alternatives are available to them.
- Many elderly people have a low level of awareness of public service agencies that can help.
In most cases of elder abuse, the perpetrator is a family member. Adult children are the most frequent abusers of the elderly in domestic settings, followed by other relatives, spouses and caregivers. Perpetrators are often emotionally or financially dependent on the victim. Many are unemployed, chemically dependent or mentally ill; however, no single profile of an abuser exists. They come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, religions and occupations. They are motivated to protect themselves from consequences.
Signs of Abuse
- Bruises, welts, burns, lacerations, scars, broken bones or serious internal injuries.
- Injuries that do not seem to fit the explanation given by the caretaker.
- Multiple injuries that are repeated or untreated.
- Unreasonable refusal by the caregiver to allow the elderly person to travel or have friends visit.
- Lack of adequate clothing. For example, an elder who is dressed poorly for the weather.
- Lack of adequate medical care or poor hygiene; frequent illness; or seldom bathed.
- Misuse of money or property or unauthorized sale of real or personal property.
- Low self-esteem; elderly person makes excuses for the behavior of the caretaker or blames self.
What you can do...
- Be supportive
- Lessen the isolation; visit and involve the elder often
- Provide information of resources and community services
- Help develop a safety plan
- Attend support groups
- Get involved
- Contact your local shelter about other ideas