At some point, most of us have worried about an elderly person we know - whether it's a parent, family member, or acquaintance. And that concern may not just be for their overall health; it may also be about the type of care they're receiving.
The fact is, elder abuse is far more common than people may think. Studies done by the Senate Special Committee on Aging show that there are as many as 5 millions victims of elder abuse each year. To put it in perspective, up to 5 percent of the elderly population in the U.S. has suffered abuse. Recognizing the different kinds of abuse, and the related signs, is of vital importance in addressing the problem..
All of the following are warning signs that a loved one or another elderly person you know may be suffering from some type of abuse.
- Physical Abuse
Another common indicator that physical abuse may be occurring is when an elderly person’s caregiver offers odd explanations for the injuries. The elder may be reluctant to discuss the physical abuse, so it's a good idea to take them aside and have them talk specifically about the injuries and how they got them.
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Untreated medical problems
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Soiled bedding and clothes
- A senior who is left dirty or unbathed
- Clothing that's unsuitable for the weather
- Unsafe living conditions, such as no heat or running water, or glaring fire hazards
- Financial Exploitation
Those signs include significant withdrawals from the elder's bank accounts and investments, missing items or cash, suspicious changes in wills, policies, power of attorney designation or titles, unpaid medical bills, and unusual activity such as a withdrawal from an ATM when the account holder is confined to a home or facility, or bedridden.
- Healthcare Fraud
Another warning sign is any evidence of inadequate care, despite medical bills having been paid in full. Red flags at senior care facilities include insufficient and/or poorly trained staff or inadequate answers to questions about care.
The dynamics of elder abuse are similar to domestic violence in that the victim may be afraid to talk about it for fear of reprisal or further neglect. Or, in some cases, the victim may be unable to reach out for help due to physical or cognitive limitations or other reasons. That's why it's crucial to recognize the signs of mistreatment and carefully monitor your loved one’s care to ensure they don't fall victim to this heinous crime.