Growing epidemic of elder abuse
Elder abuse or mistreatment of older people go back to the ancient times. While other forms of violence dominate public health issues, elder abuse still remains undercover. With the increase in the number of cases of elder abuse, it has now become a matter of grave public health concern. The growing incidence of violence against our elderly, only points towards a complex network governing neglect, mistreatment, caregiver stress, family stress and financial issues.
Majority cases of elder abuse begin at home. Whenever we hear about elder abuse, we all think of the kind of mistreatment of our elderly at home care centers. However, this is not always the case, and our elderly often receive mistreatment and abuse in their own home.
What is elder abuse?
According to CDC, elder abuse is an intentional act. Either by a caregiver or other person, that either creates or causes harm to an elderly person. There are various forms of elder abuse, which include:
When the caregiver, administers physical force on the elderly, like slaps, ties them with ropes or chains, beats them, all refer to physical abuse. Any act that physically harms the elderly, even if it was for his / her benefit, is physical abuse.
Sexual abuse, as the name suggests, includes any form of inappropriate touching, to indulging in a sexual act forcefully with an elderly who is unable to voice his / her protest against the awful act.
Emotional or psychological abuse
In this form of abuse, if the caregiver behaves or treats the elderly in a way, which is threatening and causes fear, pain, emotional stress for the elderly, is abusive.
Financial abuse is that form of abuse, wherein the caregiver or other members of the family, take money from the elderly without their permission. In other words, it is money taken under false pretenses and can result in big frauds involving property.
Signs of elder abuse
Many times elder abuse goes unnoticed, due to ignorance or lack of knowledge regarding the same. The signs and conditions listed below may not always hint elder abuse. These may also be an indication of some underlying medical conditions. However, those signs and symptoms which do not have a medical basis should form the source for further investigation. The following are some of the major signs and symptoms indicating elder abuse:
Signs indicating physical abuse –
- Grip marks or signs of bruises on arms, around the neck or wrists.
- Unexplained injuries
- Rope marks on the wrists or ankles indicating physical abuse.
- Indifferent attitude and making repeated statements about injuries
Signs indicating emotional or psychological abuse –
- Elderly becomes quiet and avoids social contact
- Refuses to talk and becomes unresponsive
- Prefers to stay alone and chooses isolation over social gatherings
- Sudden changes in behavior
Signs indicating Sexual abuse –
- Anal or vaginal bleeding without any medical cause
- Frequent vaginal infections
- Torn undergarments or bruised private parts
Signs of financial abuse –
- Unexplained expenditure of large sum of money
- There are no records of the amount spent
- Signature on the checks do not match with that of the elderly
Signs indicating neglect –
- Poor basic hygiene of the elderly
- Improper clothing according to weather changes
- The home doesn’t have the basic necessities such as proper plumbing, electricity, etc.
- The home is full of clutter and is dirty as well as untidy
- Safety hazards are absent and the home lacks basic maintenance facilities.
It is important to know, all the above-mentioned signs indicate that an elderly is being mistreated and abused. Also, finding some solutions, or reporting the matter to centers that handle elder abuse cases, is the best you can do.
Steps to prevent elder abuse
Elder abuse is a grave problem, and taking steps to prevent the same is extremely necessary. All of us have the right to live an abuse-free life, and so do, our elderly loved ones. However, some elderly people go through abusive treatment almost every day. Here are some tips, that can help you prevent elder abuse.
- You need to first carefully listen to the senior and his / her caregiver.
- Intervene directly only when you suspect abuse of the elderly person.
- Look for warning signs that are indicative of abuse.
- With permission, have a look at the bank account statement to check for financial fraud.
- You also need to talk to the elderly and know about the kind of behavior meted out to them.
- If you are a family member or a close friend of the elderly, you can offer to stay with them at least for a good period of time, so that the caregiver can get a break.
In many times, the elder abuse occurs due to extreme levels of stress on the part of the caregiver. While, this is certainly not an excuse to abuse your elderly, but taking certain steps to reduce caregiver stress would be a good idea. All caregivers should practice various stress reduction practices, to keep stress at bay, and prevent elder abuse. For more information on the subject, check out this site. Also, check out this past post on dysfunctional families. https://theultimatecaregivingexpert.com/2017/08/21/how-to-deal-with-dysfunctional-family-members/