Signs Of Elder Abuse And What Seniors Can Do About It
One out of every ten elders over the age of 60 has reported experiencing some form of abuse. For some the abuse is purely emotional or verbal, others live through physical violence that can range from aggravating to incidents that result in hospitalization or death. For every reported case of elder abuse, exploitation or neglect reported, five more go unreported.
What Are The Signs of Elder Abuse?
NursingHomeLegalNY.com states that elder abuse is an epidemic and abusers tend to be drawn to the vulnerability of seniors. The signs of elder abuse vary from the obvious to undetectable. Seniors who suffer from physical abuse might have unexplained bruising or scratches, but these are often explained away and don't provide definitive proof of physical abuse. Broken bones, dislocations, marks on the wrists or ankles, these are also potential signs of abuse. However, there are other signs of physical abuse that are more telling. The following are signs to be on the lookout for:
Skittishness: The victim is afraid to be away from the caretaker for very long. Someone who was at one time sociable and talkative in passing suddenly can't talk or seems to be in a hurry to leave, jumps at sudden movements or glances around as if nervous.
Lack of Eye Contact: Most victims of physical or emotional abuse won't maintain eye contact with people as if they are ashamed of what is happening to them.
Irritability: Friends or family may notice that victims of abuse anger easily or seem irritated at the little things, particularly with those they are closest to. They may even begin to exhibit aggressive behavior themselves.
Signs of emotional abuse share some of those with physical abuse; a victim of verbal or emotional abuse is often withdrawn, irritable and often amicably agreeable. The elderly victim sometimes doesn't seem to have their own opinions on anything, perhaps due to the fear of retribution that comes with being emotionally abused.
Neglect and Abandonment Indicators
It is estimated that over half of all reported cases of elder abuse fall under elder neglect, intentional or unintentional. Neglect occurs as a result of a caretaker simply not caring for his or her elderly family member or friend. The neglected senior is often unkempt, thin, and might look unclean.
Caregivers keep them in isolation, so they don't leave the house much. There could be signs that medication isn't being provided on a regular basis, such as medication bottles that are more than a month old that still have quite a few pills in them. In some cases, the senior's behavior can be described as a bit "off," especially if they are supposed to be taking psychiatric medication on a regular basis.
Signs Of Financial Exploitation
This is by far one of the hardest forms of abuse to detect, particularly for those who aren't close to the family. Financial exploitation occurs when a person--most often a family member or caretaker--convinces the senior to spend his money on a product or service that benefits the caretaker/family, or simply steals money from the senior that should be used for bills or personal needs. Signs include:
Are You Being Abused?
If you are currently being abused, or believe you are being exploited or otherwise mistreated, it is important to let someone know. If you can't reach out to trusted family or a friend, think of those outside the home. Your doctor or even pharmacist can be trusted to provide help. Or you can call the Eldercare Locator. They can help you find help locally. Many states have emergency abuse shelters that can offer you a safe place to stay for free. Emergency Support Shelter in Longview Washington offers free and confidential services through their Crime Victim Advocacy Program. Call 360-425-1176 to set up an appointment with an advocate today.
Laurence Banville is the managing partner of Banville Law with a reputation for thorough preparation and a balanced approach to his clients. He is a down-to earth bright young attorney who has been honored with the Top 40 under 40 award. This recognition is given to the top 40 ranked attorneys across the United States who are under 40 years of age. He represents plaintiffs and in particular of nursing home abuse.