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Elder Abuse

Senior citizens are often abused by those who are entrusted to take care of them.

Elder abuse is a form of abuse that isn't publicized as much as child and spousal abuse, but it is a very serious problem that occurs much more than most of us might imagine and much of it is never reported.

This is because many cases of elder abuse is perpetrated by close family members or by people who are paid and entrusted to care for seniors such as nursing home staff workers.

Doctors and nurses in hospitals and other medical facilities have been caught, and some prosecuted, for treating elderly patients with unwarranted abuse.

It is estimated that one in seven elderly people are abused in one form or another, many on a regular basis and they may be afraid to report the abuse because of what might happen if they tell.

Elder abuse may be verbal, physical, mental, sexual, or financial.

  • Verbal abuse can take the form of yelling, insults, belittlement, the use of profane language, and disrespect.
  • Physical abuse is often inflicted by beatings, slapping, punching, pinching, kicking, chocking, and other forms of violence. Other forms of physical abuse include making a person live in unsanitary conditions such being left to wallow in their own urine or feces, roach and rat infested living quarters, rooms that are either to cold or to hot, being forced to take unnecessary amounts of medicines to make a person sleep or lethargic. In some cases, they may be under medicated or given medicines that they don't need at all.
  • Psychological abuse comes in the form of threats of violence, isolation, hunger, dehydration, abandonment, and neglect.
  • Financial abuse can be perpetrated in different ways such as identity theft, bank fraud, the unauthorized use of personal checks, credit cards, Social Security and retirement pension funds, and the unauthorized sale of homes, cars, jewelry, and other property. Banks and other financial institutions are also required to report any suspected abuse involving accounts of elderly persons.
  • Elders are often raped or forced to perform sexual acts by nursing home employees, their own family members, or by others who are allowed to come into their homes.

Telltale signs of elder abuse include depression, nervousness, cuts and bruises on their bodies, black eyes, missing teeth, bed sores, soiled clothes, and broken bones.

As a caregiver, you are responsible for reporting any suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities such as a local Adult Protective Services Agency. Your report will be confidential and you can ask to remain anonymous. You can also report the suspected abuse to local law enforcement officials.

Elder abuse is a serious crime and the consequences can be harsh for the perpetrator. Laws have been written and enacted to protect senior citizens from those who prey on them. Penalties for such crimes can range from fines, jail time, to many years in prison depending on the severity of the abuse.


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