Elder abuse is an intentional act caused by someone that the elderly person trusts, leading to harm to the senior citizen. It is usually caused by either a family member or a caregiver of the senior.
This kind of mistreatment is prevalent across the world, but it is something that is not often reported, mainly because either the senior is ashamed, unaware of the fact that they’re being abused, or that they don’t want to ruin their relationship with the abuser because of dependency.
As a result, it takes a toll on the elderly person’s physical and mental health.
According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2020, around 1 in every 6 people aged 60 and above have experienced some kind of abuse in communal settings.
In this article, we are going to share all the different types of elder abuse and how to avoid it.
Different Types Of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be mental, physical, or financial. If we categorize systematically, there are 7 types of elder abuse in general. These are-
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is the infliction of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, trauma, impairment, or death. This type of abuse commonly involves hitting, slapping, and pushing the senior.
There are also other forms of physical abuse, such as force-feeding, physical restraining, and inappropriate drugging.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse refers to the abuser hurting the senior citizen emotionally. It involves uttering hurtful words, insulting, yelling, threatening, or treating the elderly person like a child. Also, keeping the elderly person from visiting or contacting their close ones is another form of emotional abuse.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves the abuser forcing the senior citizen to take part in sexual activities.
Neglect is defined as the lack of proper care to the senior citizen. It often includes not fulfilling the senior’s necessities such as food, medications, clean clothing, shelter, safety, and personal hygiene.
Neglect is classified into two categories- active and passive. Active neglect refers to the caregiver purposely withholding care while passive neglect refers to the caregiver being unable to fulfill the elderly person’s needs because of a lack of resources or other reasons.
Abandonment happens when a caregiver or a family member leaves the elderly person by themselves. The elderly person is not given any proper care, treatment, or necessities prior to or after abandonment.
6. Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation refers to stealing financial or material resources from a vulnerable older adult for the benefit of the abuser. It includes forgery of bank checks, unauthorized usage of credit cards, or withdrawal of retirement benefits. Also, manipulating the older adult with the aim of obtaining assets is also a part of financial exploitation.
7. Healthcare Fraud
Healthcare fraud is committed by doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers. This type of abuse involves overcharging the elderly patient for medical services, falsifying medical claims, or charging for service that hasn’t been provided.
Warning Signs Of Elder Abuse
Whenever you encounter an older adult, whether at home or outside, make sure to detect the warning signs of abuse. Here are the following signs-
- Wound, scars, or bruises in the skin
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- Hair or tooth loss
- Disheveled hair, clothing, or appearance
- Isolation from activities they enjoy taking part in
- Poor physical health
- Missing belongings
- Declined credit card or bank check
- Aggressive behavior
- Broken spectacles, watch, or other belongings
- Lack of medical aids
- Inability to pay bills or spend on personal care despite having enough financial resources
- Discomfort toward a particular person
If you notice any of these signs on the older adult, don’t hesitate to talk to them in order to find out what’s wrong. Once you figure out the situation, seek help from Adult Protective Services, a long-term care ombudsman, elder abuse lawyers, or the police immediately.
How To Prevent Elder Abuse?
It is our duty to protect senior citizens from the hands of their abusers. In order to do that successfully, it is essential that everyone follows the below guidelines-
- Take note of the signs of elder abuse. If you do find them, report immediately.
- Check if the elderly citizens are taking proper medications for their condition (if any).
- Educate yourself and the people around you about the warning signs and prevention of elder abuse.
- Talk to older adults who may have a few close people or are living by themselves. Keep in touch with them as much as you can.
- Ask older adults for permission to check their bank accounts and credit card statements for any unauthorized transaction.
- Assist caregivers or senior citizens in overcoming drug or alcohol issues.
- Offer respite breaks to over-burdened caregivers.
- Join local communities working for the prevention of elder abuse.
Elder abuse is a serious issue that needs to be stopped. Like all of us, our elderly citizens have their rights as well. They should be treated with love, care, and respect. Even the smallest gestures we make for them will, without a doubt, fill their heart with joy.
If we educate everyone about this matter and take the necessary steps, it can be minimized to a great extent. Now that you have learned about the different types of elder abuse and how to avoid it, let’s take a step forward and say ‘NO’ to elder abuse.