The rates of elderly abuse in the United States are alarming. The CDC defines elderly abuse as the neglect or exploitation of a senior citizen (ages 60 or above) by the caregiver or entrusted party. A 2013 study done by the National Center on Elder Abuse concluded that approximately 5 million, or 9 percent of the elderly in America are abused in some form or another.
The issue of elderly abuse exists not in the numbers, but within the act itself. This type of abuse is nearly impossible to detect because it occurs behind closed doors, usually by caregivers who are entrusted with the care.
The caregiver tends to be the one neglecting and exploiting the elderly, threatening them to make sure they keep quiet, in most cases. Other times, the elderly may not be able to fully understand that they are being capitalized on, neglected or abused.
Breakdown of Abuse
The three types of elderly abuse are physical, emotional and financial:
- Physical abuse occurs when the elderly are beaten, restrained, or threatened with a weapon by the caregiver. This also includes sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact, where the elderly are touched unwillingly or are not able to fully understand the acts inflicted on them.
- Emotional abuse and neglect occurs when the elderly are in a threatening environment, are humiliated, are pressured into a controlled environment that limits access to the outside world, or are not given nutritional, hygienic, and other basic needs.
- Financial abuse includes forcing or coercing an elderly person to sign financial documents or give money, or taking their money or possession by force.
Abuse in Nursing Homes
Unfortunately, nursing homes are easy places to perform elderly abuse; nursing homes are sometimes inadequately funded, forcing employees to deal with cutbacks, low wages, and long hours. This kind of environment can lead to corner-cutting for easy profits, despite the impact it may have on the elderly that live there.
Protecting Your Loved One
In addition to the already growing rate of elderly- and dementia-related abuse, the population of elderly in the United States is expected to double in the next 40 years.
Raising awareness of the issue is a great start, but there are actions that can be taken to ensure a loved one is being properly cared for:
- Look for “bed sores,” or bruises the size of a thumbprint or fingertip on the head and neck of the person in question as these are often signs of restraint and physical abuse.
- Isolation by the caregiver is often a sign of abuse. If the adult has limited contact with the outside world or are unusually jittery or nervous, the caregiver could be abusing them.
- If a loved one appears malnourished, dirty, or is wearing soiled clothing, this may mean the elderly person is being neglected by the caretaker.
- If the elderly person has a shift in personality, becoming more hostile or timid in the presence of loved ones, contact someone who can help, like the National Adult Protective Services.
Using Hidden Cameras for Monitoring
Using hidden surveillance cameras is a great way to keep an eye on your loved ones while you’re away. Hidden cameras or convert cameras will give you the feeling of security and peace of mind knowing that you are able to monitor what goes on when you aren’t around.
You can never be too careful when it comes to safety so it’s important to be proactive in ensuring the safety of your loved ones.
Remember, most often elderly abuse goes unreported. It is up to us to report any possible case of elderly abuse and keep our elderly friends and loved ones safe and in good care.