As we age, our goals change from when we were younger. These may include slowing down a bit, moving to a warmer climate, or simply relaxing.
Not surprisingly, no one has the goal of becoming the victim of abuse. Unfortunately, elder abuse is more common today. Many cases go unreported, leaving increasing numbers of seniors to silently suffer.
Elder abuse can take many forms. These include direct physical, emotional, or sexual abuse and indirect abuse such as neglect, abandonment, and exploitation.
Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse include the threat of or actual infliction of physical pain or injury, deprivation of a basic needs, infliction of mental pain or anguish, or non-consensual sexual contact.
Neglect and abandonment include the refusal or failure to ensure proper food, shelter, heath care or protection. In severe cases of abuse, the party responsible for the care and custody of the senior will completely desert and abandon them.
Financial exploitation is by far the most common form of elder abuse. It is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s assets, funds, or property. Besides the obvious theft and forgery, financial exploitation can also include abusing the authority granted in A Power Of Attorney, under a guardianship order or some type of fraud.
Elder Abuse Statistics:
- Seniors comprise 1/8 of the U. S. population.
- Seniors age 65 and older account for almost 1/3 of all financial scam victims.
- People age 55 and older lose a reported $3 billion a year.
- Only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse is reported to the authorities.
- Approximately 7-10% of seniors have reported previous abuse (Department of Health and Human Services).
- 90% of elder abuse is carried out by a relative.
A senior’s ability to process information typically decreases as they continue to age. Simultaneously, the senior’s need to feel secure, loved, and valued typically increases. This can create vulnerability. The following simple steps can decrease and even prevent elder abuse.
The best way to prevent elder abuse is to simply pay attention and stay involved with your elderly friend, family member, or loved one and educate them. Spend time with them and maintain trust. Help them shop, pay bills, and balance a check book. Talk to them about strangers calling them or coming into their lives. Go to the bank with them and meet the personnel in the branch. Watch for unexplained bruises, sudden changes in finances, missing medication, medication not being taken, withdrawn or different behavior patterns, or a sudden lack of interest in normal activities and relationships.