According to a National Council On Aging (NCOA) report, about five million American seniors experience abuse each year, resulting in an annual financial loss for the victims amounting to an estimated $36.5 billion. Unfortunately, this silent problem robs our aging population of their dignity—and some, even their lives.
What Is Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse may refer to any act by any person—whether intentional, unintentional, or negligent—making their presence a serious risk to a vulnerable elder. It takes many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse and neglect. It can happen in various settings, including the person’s home, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.
Elder abuse is a serious issue that can compromise the health and well-being of older adults. There are telling signs of an elderly family member experiencing abuse, but the situation can get more complicated because these abuses can be inflicted by anyone, including the senior’s family, friends, caregivers, healthcare providers, and strangers.
Different Types of Elderly Abuse
Mistreated seniors have 300% increased chances of death, according to a study conducted by the National Council on Biotechnology Information (NCBI). To help you understand more about the subject, the National Council on Elder Abuse (NCEA) identified seven different types of abuse.
- Physical abuse
This includes any intentional physical harm or injury, such as hitting, pushing, or restraining a senior. Physical abuse can have serious physical and psychological consequences for older adults, including injuries, pain, and a loss of independence. Similarly, physical abuse of the elderly is a criminal offense, and those found guilty can be charged with criminal assault and face penalties such as fines and imprisonment.
- Emotional abuse
Emotional maltreatment includes verbal or nonverbal acts that cause emotional pain or distress, such as humiliation, intimidation, or isolation. These forms of abuse can have serious psychological consequences for older adults, including depression, anxiety, and a loss of self-worth. It is also a criminal offense, and those found guilty can face jail time and get fined.
Emotional abuse is often more difficult to recognize and prove than physical abuse. One reason is that the elderly victims may be hesitant to report it due to fear of retaliation, shame, or a belief that they will not be believed.
- Sexual abuse
Elder sexual abuse refers to non-consensual sexual contact or behavior between a vulnerable older adult and a perpetrator who is often in a position of trust or authority. This involves unwanted sexual contact such as fondling, as well as more criminal acts such as sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and rape.
- Financial abuse
This refers to the unauthorized use of an older adult’s money or property, such as stealing cash or a checkbook or using their credit card without permission. It can also involve someone using undue influence or manipulation to gain control over an older person’s financial decisions.
Either intentional or unintentional, this is exemplified by a caregiver’s failure to provide for the basic needs of an older adult, such as food, shelter, medical care, or protection from harm.
This type of abuse is caused by older adults who are unable to care for themselves and unable to provide their own basic needs, such as food, shelter, medical care, and protection from harm, due to their mental or physical incapacity.
It is a form of abuse in which a caregiver deserts an older adult who cannot care for themselves. This can include leaving them alone without assistance or support, or abandoning them in a hospital or nursing home without making arrangements for their care.
Abandonment can also include leaving an older adult in a dangerous or unfamiliar place, such as on the street. This abuse can have serious consequences for the older adult, including physical harm, emotional distress, and a loss of independence.
The Bottom Line
Elderly abuse is a silent problem that affects a huge number of our aging population. Many older adults can experience various types of abuse simultaneously, and this can have a serious physical and psychological impact on the elderly; it has even led to the deaths of some. Most importantly, these are criminal offenses that should be reported to authorities, but some elderly victims may be hesitant to report a case of abuse because of fear of retribution, shame, or dread that no one will believe them.
If you suspect a case of a senior being subject to elderly abuse, but you don’t have solid evidence, contact us so we can do the investigation for you.