As adults grow older, they may start to experience vision and hearing issues, become more physically frail, and may develop cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, they may become vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
According to the National Center of Elder Abuse, five million elder adults experience some form of mistreatment each year and is rising in the United States. Mistreatment includes physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation.
Unfortunately, many cases of elder abuse and neglect typically go unreported because they may be too ashamed to report the abusive behavior or do not want to report a family member, friend, or trusted caregiver. It is critical to look for any warning signs of abuse in older adults, such as physical injuries and changes in personality. If a family member won’t let others into the home to see the elder member, there may be an issue. If a caregiver attempts to dominate an older adult, that may be an indication of abuse.
The following are common signs of elder mistreatment:
- Neglect – Things that should draw your attention should include looking malnourished, wearing dirty and soiled clothing, or has untreated physical problems.
- Physical abuse – Keep an eye out for bruises shaped like a hand, finger, or thumb. Check for pressure or bedsores since they are often a sign of neglect. Unnecessary use of physical and chemical restraints is another sign of abuse.
- Emotional abuse – This includes yelling, intimidating, threatening, ridiculing, or humiliating are all forms of emotional and psychological abuse.
- Sexual abuse – Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, bruises around the breasts or genitals, and torn or bloodied underwear are signs of sexual abuse.
- Financial abuse – Spending or withdrawals from an elder adult’s account in correlation with unpaid bills and utilities being turned off may all be signs of someone being taken advantage of financially.
If you are an older adult who is being abused, neglected or exploited, tell at least one individual. No matter if it is your healthcare provider, a friend or a trusted family member, inform them of the abusive behavior and save an elder adult.