Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t disappear as we age. Last Saturday, June 15th, individuals banded together to raise awareness around elder abuse in observance of World Elder Abuse Day. While some may choose to turn a blind eye, elder abuse is a serious issue that affects many older adults, their families and their friends. It is a topic that deserves attention so that people know what elder abuse is and what signs to look for when visiting a loved one.
There are six major categories of elder abuse as defined by the Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and abandonment. Beyond the cuts, bruises and other bodily injuries indicative of physical abuse, there are other warning signs that a senior is a victim of this type of abuse. These include withdrawal from usual activities, depression, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unexplained weight loss, a change in financial attitude, and strained relationships.
Just how prevalent is elder abuse? According to one U.S. study, around 10 percent of elders said they had experienced abuse in the past year, while the United Nations says that 4 to 6 percent of elders worldwide have experienced some form of mistreatment. However, a 2003 report by the National Research Council estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is ever reported to authorities. The reason for this is that often times the senior being abused knows and cares about the abuser and doesn’t want to get him or her into trouble. Sadly, the majority of elder abusers are spouses and 90 percent of abusers are family members. To help ensure that your aging loved one is safe at home, consider hiring a trained caregiver from a reputable home care company.
Why do seniors become targets for abuse? They’re often viewed as vulnerable, not only physically, but also financially; many financial scams involve conning the elderly with “free” medical equipment in exchange for their Social Security numbers. Research shows that elderly women are more likely to be abused than elderly men, and that the prevalence of abuse increases with age.
Elder abuse is a very serious problem, one that Home Care Assistance is helping to resolve. Our caregivers are screened, undergo background checks and are professionally trained. If your loved one is at risk, or you suspect he or she is a victim of elder abuse, contact us today and we can set-up a free consultation to discuss your concerns and come up with a solution that is best for your family.