According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 in 6 adults aged 60 and over have experienced elder abuse in the last year.
Do you have a loved one you suspect is experiencing elder abuse? Are you unsure of what warning signs to look for or how to help them?
Read on to learn more about the signs of elder abuse, as well as what you should do if you spot any of them.
What Is Elder Abuse?
The term “elder abuse” refers to any kind of intentional action that causes harm (or the risk of harm) to an elderly individual. The following are some examples of elder abuse:
- Physical Abuse: Inflicting pain or injury, such as slapping, bruising, or restraining
- Sexual Abuse: Any kind of non-consensual sexual contact
- Neglect: Failure to provide food, health care, protection, or shelter
- Exploitation: Illegally taking, misusing, or concealing funds, property, or assets
- Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain or distress through verbal and/or nonverbal actions (humiliation, intimidation, or threats, etc.)
- Abandonment: Deserting a vulnerable elder
There are lots of ways to inflict harm upon an elderly person. Because the elderly are generally some of the most vulnerable members of our society, it’s especially important to take elder abuse seriously.
Warning Signs of Elder Abuse
The first step to preventing elder abuse is being able to recognize elder abuse symptoms. Here are some of the most common warning signs to be aware of:
- Unexplained injuries (pressure marks, broken bones, burns, etc.)
- Unexplained withdrawal from regular activities
- Sudden changes in mood or alertness
- Injuries that indicate sexual abuse (such as bruises around the breasts or genital area)
- Sudden changes in finances
- Indicators of neglect (such as bedsores, poor hygiene, or sudden weight changes)
Changes in relationships can be signs of elder abuse, too. For example, if the elderly person appears to be withdrawn or has suddenly stopped talking to family members and loved ones, that could be a sign that they’re being abused, controlled, manipulated, etc.
How to Get Help for Elder Abuse
Have you spotted any of these warning signs? If so, take the following steps to stop the abuse and protect your elderly loved one:
- Document the abuse (take pictures, write down descriptions of what you see, take recordings when your loved one is telling you about potentially abusive behavior, etc.)
- Speak to a supervisor at the nursing or assisted living home to ask questions or express your concerns
- Contact local police for immediate help
Consider working with a lawyer, too. As the professionals at https://www.thomaslawoffices.com/chicago/nursing-home-abuse/ point out, working with a lawyer increases your chances of getting justice for your loved one and providing them with long-term help and protection.
Need Elder Abuse Advice?
Now that you know what to look for, have you noticed any signs of elder abuse when observing your loved one? If so, follow the advice discussed above so you can give them the care and support they deserve.
Do you want to learn more about caring for an elderly loved one? Visit the Health and Lifestyle sections of our site today for more information.