In the US, about one in ten adults above the age of sixty have experienced some form of elder abuse.
Senior citizen abuse can happen in many ways and in a variety of places. Shockingly, in a majority of incidents, the perpetrator is a family member, often the spouse or adult children of the elder. Elder mistreatment can also happen in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Unfortunately, this type of abuse may be more common than people think. Only one in twenty-four cases of elder abuse get reported. Often, the seniors are too afraid to speak out against their offenders.
It’s up to the people close to them to recognize the signs of abuse and become their voice.
What are the common types of elder abuse and how do you know that it’s happening? Here are five signs to look out for.
1. Signs of Physical Abuse
You may think that physical abuse is the easiest to spot among the types of abuse, but it’s actually one of the hardest. The abuser will go to great lengths to hide bruises and injuries under clothing or bed linens. We also tend to assume that the elderly are more susceptible to falls and trips at their age.
You should suspect physical abuse if you observe the following:
- Unexplained or frequent injuries including broken bones, dislocations, bruises, burns, or scars
- Marks around the wrists and other signs of physical restraint
- Refusal of the caretaker to leave you alone with the senior
- Signs of struggle such as broken eyeglasses
2. Signs of Psychological Abuse
Signs of emotional and mental abuse are subtle, mainly manifesting as a change in behavior. The elderly individual may appear uninterested or unengaged in normal activities. In more serious cases, they may fall into a deep depression or develop unusual behavior such as mumbling or rocking.
Another warning sign is if you see that the caregiver tends to belittle, control, or threaten the senior.
3. Signs of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse can mean any non-consensual sexual act, not just intercourse. Inappropriate touching, fondling, or forced nudity are also included.
Finding signs of sexual abuse is difficult since it entails examining the private areas of the elderly person. The caretaker who dresses them may alert you to unexplained bleeding or injuries around their intimate areas. Another clue is “spotting” in their undergarments which may indicate vaginal or anal bleeding.
4. Senior Neglect
Does your loved one appear gaunt and malnourished? Are they often sick even though the staff claims that they’ve been taking their medicine? Neglect is a common form of nursing home abuse but it can also happen in the home of relatives.
Check their living conditions, how they’re dressed, and their hygiene. Document these signs of elder abuse and neglect so you can present a strong case if you decide to pursue legal action.
5. Senior Citizen Abuse Can Be Financial
Lastly, abuse can also mean taking advantage of the older person financially.
Stealing is the most common type of financial abuse. It can also include forging checks or taking their retirement or Social Security benefits. It’s natural to suspect relatives but seniors can also be victims of scams from strangers.
This Time, It’s Our Responsibility to Protect Them
Our parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts protected us when we were too young to fend for ourselves. Now it’s our time to protect them from senior citizen abuse.
Did you learn something from this article? Check out the rest of our site for more about the different facets of senior living.