Many elderly rely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. As we grow older, we need guidance and support. Unfortunately, the dependence upon family members makes an older person more vulnerable to abuse.
Nationally, one in ten Americans (age 60+) are suffering from some form of abuse. Worse yet, one in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities and 90% of elder abuse cases are perpetrated by family members. Common adult abuse includes sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and financial abuse. A study done by MetLife found that seniors lose at least $2.9 billion a year to financial exploitation. Most of the financial abuse in the United States is committed by family members, caregivers and friends.
There are two main classifications of neglect . . . Active and Passive. Active neglect is knowingly not providing care-taking functions and responsibilities. Active neglect can include abandonment, deprivation of food, water, heat, cleanliness, eyeglasses, dentures or health-related services. Passive neglect includes not knowingly providing care-taking responsibilities because of inadequate caregiver knowledge or disputing the value of prescribed services. Self-Neglect means an individual is failing to care for his or her own self needs.
What can you do to help prevent abuse?
Watch for warning signs that might indicate elder abuse including:
- Review the elder’s medications on a regular basis
- Watch for possible financial abuse
- Call and visit as often as you can
- Ask questions about health, happiness and safety
- Offer to stay with the elder so the caregiver can have a break on a regular basis if possible
Report the Abuse
All states have agencies that receive complaints of abuse. In most states, failure to report abuse of the elderly is a crime. Anyone who suspects that an older adult is being mistreated should contact Adult Protective Services or police.