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10 Tips for Stopping Elder Abuse

Elder abuse takes many forms. Common scenarios include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as financial exploitation; and neglect. 

Abuse can take place anywhere from the individual’s home to long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, abuse often comes from the elderly’s own children. However, this never excludes in-home caregivers and nurses.

Types of Elder Abuse

Physical Abuse

Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained bruises, cuts, or other physical injuries.  Giving an elderly person the wrong medication is also physical abuse. Furthermore, laws regarding sedation and restraint vary from state to state, and may be considered physical abuse.

According to the National Council on Aging, one in ten elderly individuals experiences elderly abuse or neglect.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is also a very real threat. Yelling, intimidating, or keeping a senior citizen from people or activities they enjoy is abuse. Additionally, this could also be anything like verbal assaults to harassment.

Sexual Abuse

Any unexplained bleeding or cuts in the genital area can be a sign of sexual abuse. Genital infections or bruising around elder’s breasts should be cause for a call to a physician. Also be aware, inappropriate, unwanted, or forced touching is abuse.  

Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation of an elderly citizen can mean withholding money or misuse of funds by the caregiver. If you’re able, sit down with your elderly family members and make sure they have long-term financial plans arranged before they need them.

Neglect

Lack of basic necessities is considered neglect. Food, clothing, and hygiene are the most common areas of neglect. However, if an elderly person’s home is in disrepair, this too could be considered neglect.  

Another form of neglect is willful deprivation. This is when an individual denies an elderly person food, shelter, medication or care.

10 Easy Ways for the Public to Be Involved in Elder Abuse Prevention

Unfortunately, elder abuse exists in many forms. The good news is that there are ways to prevent it.

Thankfully, there are some easy ways to prevent elder abuse:

  1. Continually check in on any senior citizen unable to get out of the house regularly. 
  2. Take interest in an older family member or friend’s hobby or talent. Encourage them to join in on community activities. 
  3. Give an elderly home caregiver a break, regardless if the caregiver is a family member or professional. 
  4. To prevent financial abuse, ask the senior’s bank if they are trained to notice suspicious activity. Make sure the senior knows where their money goes every month.
  5. Request local media coverage of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day or Grandparents day.
  6. Reach out to local government services to find out how the public can give back.
  7. Sponsor “Respect Your Elders” events in local schools.
  8. Ask religious or community leaders to raise awareness with their members.
  9. Visit local nursing homes. Meals on Wheels programs can also be a good way for the public to check in on the homebound.
  10. Stay vocal. The more the public is aware of elder abuse, the more they can help. 

For more help learning about preventing elder abuse, visit the Health in Aging foundation website. The foundation provides tools for caregivers and senior citizens alike to determine a course of care.