A Serious, Unpleasant Situation Many Elderly Face
In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed three of the warning signs and risk factors of elder abuse. In recent years, elder abuse has become more prevalent. Statistics show that more than half a billion seniors will face some form of abuse. Unfortunately, twice that number of cases will go unreported.
More and more frequently, the elderly are preyed upon financially by unscrupulous people. Sometimes seniors are exploited by unethical medical professionals, insurance agents, or other professional care providers. Another form of elder abuse is abandonment or desertion. Lastly, due to the aging process, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or some other disease, the elderly often accidentally harm or endanger themselves.
Learn to recognize the warning signs and risk factors
The the most common sign of abuse is that the caregiver will not allow or is very insistent that you NOT see your loved one, friend, or neighbor alone!
Here are seven of the most common types of elder abuse:
2. Emotional or Psychological Abuse
3. Sexual Abuse
Financial abuse may include:
- unauthorized use of the elderly one’s property or funds either by the caregiver or an unscrupulous person
- misuse of the elderly one’s personal checks, credit cards, or other financial accounts
- stealing cash, income checks, household goods, or medications
- forgery of the elderly one’s signature on financial or legal documents
- identity theft
- announcements either by phone or in writing that the elderly person has won a prize but must pay money to claim it
- investments in phony charities, services, or subscriptions with the senior’s finances
- failure to properly care for the senior’s financial affairs
Health care abuse may include:
- unethical healthcare from professionals such as doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, or care providers
- charges for healthcare not provided.
- overcharges or duplicate billing for medical care, services, or devices
- under-medication or over-medication of the elderly one
- recommendations of fraudulent healthcare, medications, or remedies for illnesses or medical conditions
- insurance or Medicaid fraud
- abuse resulting from poorly trained or paid health care personnel, insufficient staff, crowding of patients, inadequate or lack of response to questions about the patient
Abandonment may include:
- failure to perform health care duties toward a frail or vulnerable senior under care
- actual abandonment or desertion of an elderly charge in a public place
- abandonment or desertion of a physically or mentally disabled elderly charge for periods of time such as while visiting the grocery store, at secular employment, visiting friends, or attending social functions
Self-abuse may include:
- inability to comprehend the consequences of one’s own actions, or inaction leading to harm or endangerment
- living in unsafe conditions, such as with faulty electrical wiring or equipment, no heat or A/C, no running water, or with fire hazards
- living in unsanitary conditions, such as with insects or rodents, soiled clothes and bedding, dirt, or hoarding
- inability to care for one’s physical needs properly by maintaining proper nutrition, cleanliness, bathing, or wearing appropriate clothing
- weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, or other medical conditions
- inability to care for one’s needs, physical or financial, due to incomprehension, disorientation, or incoherence
- dependency on drugs or alcohol abuse
Elder abuse is a crime! The symptoms of aging, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other medical conditions can overlap with abuse. Caretakers who are tired, overwhelmed, or burnt-out may try to explain away the symptoms. Do not be quick to judge or dismiss what you suspect. If you feel that a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor might be a victim of elder abuse, trust your instincts. Ask questions and demand satisfying answers! Remember that the elderly victims are not responsible and need someone to speak up for them; lives are at stake!
- Read Elder Abuse: a Subject No One Wants to Face! Part 3 for tips on how to report problems and to whom.