Elder Abuse Can Take on Many Forms

Abuse of the most vulnerable of society is unthinkable. But when it comes to elders, it is somewhat hidden. There is no uniform reporting system for elder abuse—making it difficult to determine just how prevalent the problem is.

A study by the National Institute of Justice found that 10 percent of those living in a community setting, such as a nursing home, reported some form of abuse. That does not account for those who live with a relative or on their own.

Elder abuse can take on many forms, including physical, sexual or financial. Neglect also is considered a form of abuse. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, physical abuse is likely to occur at the hands of a relative who lives in the home. Sexual abuse can be perpetrated by caregivers, relatives or a spouse. Financial abuse may occur by a relative, unscrupulous business person or predator.

With such wide-ranging incidents and perpetrators, it can be challenging to identify elder abuse when it is occurring.

Most states have a form of Adult Protective Services that can investigate any suspected abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse includes a state-by-state listing of resources. When calling for help, you may be asked if the person has any known medical conditions, if there are family or social supports and if you have witnessed the abusive behavior. Some states allow suspected elder abuse to be reported anonymously.

If the elder is in immediate danger, contact local police or dial 911 immediately.

Those most vulnerable to abuse are most likely to be isolated. A caring neighbor or friend can provide companionship, which may help those most vulnerable to be less likely to be taken advantage of.

Everyone can play a part in preventing elder abuse.

 

 


Sources:
National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse http://www.preventelderabuse.org/
National Institute of Justice https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/elder-abuse/Pages/identifying.aspx
U.S. Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging https://aoa.acl.gov/aoa_programs/elder_rights/ea_prevention/WhatToDo.aspx