How to recognize the 5 most common types of elder abuse

No matter if they live at home or in a nursing facility, your aging loved ones deserve to be treated with kindness, care, dignity and respect. People often become uniquely vulnerable in their later years, so it is of the utmost importance that they aren’t taken advantage of.

We sincerely hope that your loved ones get to enjoy their golden years in peace, but unfortunately, some people exploit the opportunity to make personal gains or give substandard care. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to be educated and aware of the 7 types of elder abuse. This way, you can recognize problems and take the actions needed to advocate for and protect your loved one. 

If you believe your loved one is the victim of abuse, it’s important to act quickly.  You can start by contacting Adult Protective Services, your ombudsman, and the Department of Health and Human Services immediately.

Once you’ve contacted these resources, contact the office of Maples, Nix, and Diesselhorst for a free consultation today. If we are able to take on your case, we will work hard with you to achieve  justice for your loved one.

  1. Physical abuse

Because it’s often the most noticeable, physical abuse has been the most measured and studied of all types of elder abuse. Studies have found it prevalent in about 2.8% of elderly people per year. This may not sound like a lot on the surface, but when you consider how many elderly people there are worldwide, the number is disturbing.  And when it is your loved one, these numbers do not matter at all. You simply want your loved one to be cared for and not abused. Sadly, when you look at rates in institutional settings, this number jumps to a horrifying 14.1%.

The most noticeable types of physical abuse result in bruising, cuts, or other identifying marks that can often be spotted if they’re on a part of the body commonly exposed to view. However, the truth is that physical abuse can be defined as any unwanted physical contact.

Bruises, hematoma, cuts, broken or fractured bones, or dislocated joints are all tell-tale signs of physical abuse. However, it’s always important to talk to your loved one directly if you suspect physical abuse.  Sometimes, your loved one might not be able to communicate with you about the abuse.  This is all the more reason to be aware of how your loved one is being treated. 

  1. Financial abuse

Financial abuse of the elderly can take many forms, but it’s broadly defined as the improper or illegal use of an elderly person’s funds or assets. Sometimes, people will forge signatures on financial documents, coerce someone into signing something, cash a person’s checks without their knowledge, or anything else. The best way to avoid or recognize financial abuse is to have frequent conversations with your loved one about their finances. This can be uncomfortable, but it is important.

Financial abuse can be a difficult type of abuse to recognize because unlike others, it often occurs with the tacit consent and acknowledgment of an elderly person. However, this can sometimes happen when a person is under threat, intimidation, or has limited control of their faculties. In these cases, consent isn’t valid.

  1. Sexual abuse

As horrible as it is to think about, sexual abuse is a real problem among elderly people, especially those who are in cognitive decline and can’t fully understand what’s happening to them. While you can sometimes uncover sexual abuse through conversations with your loved one, this isn’t always the case.

If you notice that your loved one suddenly has difficulties sitting, standing, or walking, is experiencing bleeding from private areas, or seems to be having pelvic pain, it may be time to have a difficult conversation with them about their caretakers.  

  1. Neglect

When a caretaker either refuses or fails to provide any aspect of their obligations or duties to an elderly person, it’s considered neglect. Neglect is sadly common in nursing homes, especially those who are motivated by profit and sometimes understaff their facility or overschedule their employees.

Neglect can take many forms. Sometimes caretakers don’t create or follow a care plan in place for the elderly. This can sometimes  include not offering personal  hygiene care, failure to identify and treat wounds, failure to take precautions to prevent getting a wound, failure to assist with mobility and many other things that our elderly cannot do for themselves.

While neglect is truly awful for the elderly, it is at least one of the easiest types of abuse to recognize. If you notice your loved one is unhygenic, has inadequate clothing, has untreated wounds, or looks malnourished, these are all signs you may want to talk to their caretaker.

  1. Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse involves someone causing distress, anguish, anxiety, or emotional pain to an elderly person. Unfortunately, because it has few physical symptoms, it is often one of the most difficult types of abuse to recognize. Sometimes, it even happens unintentionally. That doesn’t make it acceptable.

Recognizing emotional abuse is mostly about recognizing the emotional state of your loved one. If they seem withdrawn, depressed, fearful, or have extreme mood swings, these may be signs of emotional abuse.

Maples, Nix, and Diesselhorst will stand with you

Do you think your loved one might be the victim of elder abuse? We know this is a difficult idea to come to terms with, but it’s important to take action as soon as possible so that your loved one can live in the peace and safety they deserve. Contact us today for free consultation.

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