Elder Abuse ...

Would you know if it was happening to someone you love? Every day, headlines throughout the U.S. paint a grim picture of seniors who have been abused, neglected, and exploited, often by people they trust the most. Abusers may be spouses, family members, personal acquaintances, or professionals in positions of trust, or opportunistic strangers who prey on the vulnerable.

What is elder abuse?

In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or “trusted” individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. Physical abuse; neglect; emotional or psychological abuse; verbal abuse and threats; financial abuse and exploitation; sexual abuse; and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. In many states, self-neglect is also considered mistreatment.

How big is the problem?

Research indicates that more than one in ten elders may experience some type of abuse, but only one in 23 cases are reported. This means that very few seniors who have been abused get the help they need. One thing is for certain: elder abuse can happen to any older individual – your neighbor, your loved one – it can even happen to you.

Common Signs Of Elder Abuse

Some of the more obvious signs that someone may be suffering physical abuse include slap marks, unexplained bruises, pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns. But not all physical abuse is so obvious.

Why Seniors Are Vulnerable To Neglect & Abuse

Elder Abuse and Neglect, Depressed Man

Elder abuse, like other types of domestic violence, is extremely complex. Generally a combination of psychological, social, and economic factors, along with the mental and physical conditions of the victim and the perpetrator, contribute to the occurrence of elder maltreatment.

 

Although the factors listed below cannot explain all types of elder maltreatment, because it is likely that different types (as well as each single incident) involve different casual factors, they are some of the risk factors researchers say seem to be related to elder abuse.

 

Dementia and Cognitive Impairment

 

Elders with dementia are thought to be at greater risk of abuse and neglect than those of the general elderly population. Risk factors for this population include the caregivers heightened perception of burden and depressive symptoms, as well as the care recipient's psychological aggression and physical assault behaviors.

 

Domestic Violence Grown Old

 

It is important to acknowledge that spouses make up a large percentage of elder abusers, and that a substantial proportion of these cases are domestic violence grown old: partnerships in which one member of a couple has traditionally tried to exert power and control over the other through emotional abuse, physical violence and threats, isolation, and other tactics. Read more