Aging can be a vulnerable process. Many seniors find themselves unable to completely care for themselves the way they would have when they were younger. The elderly often move in with family, into senior living facilities, or they have a caregiver to help meet their daily needs. So it’s especially egregious when those people who are tasked with helping seniors care for themselves abuse their position. Every year, there are up to five million cases of elder abuse in the United States alone. Learn how to recognize elder abuse so you can stop it when you see it:
Types of Elder Abuse
It’s important first to recognize that as with any other kind of abuse, there’s more than just the physical. Neglect can also be abuse and is, in fact, a far more common type of abuse. Types of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse – noticeable by bruising on the face and trunk, rope marks, sudden changes in behavior, and serious injuries that come without a reported fall.
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional or verbal abuse – including gaslighting, insults, threats, and harassment. Elders who undergo emotional abuse will often be cowed and strive to make themselves less of a burden.
- Financial abuse – whether controlling finances or spending finances of a senior without their informed consent
- Neglect – noticeable by seniors living in an unclean, unhygienic environment, unable to care for themselves.
Listen to Seniors
When the #MeToo social media movement began to call out sexual abuse against women, a cry went up to believe women when they claim sexual abuse, as many claims are waved off in favor of the abuser’s point of view. When it comes to elder abuse, however, we must be sure that we listen to and believe seniors. While many assume that seniors being abused don’t have the faculties to speak up and make a claim, this is simply not true. Many seniors try to speak up about the abuse they suffer, but they are often dismissed.
In addition, often they feel unsafe to report elder abuse because the people abusing them have so much power over them. When visiting senior loved ones, ask how they’ve been doing and listen for any hints they may be trying to give. You may also want to do your research on a senior living facility and what seniors or family members have said about the facility before moving your loved one there.
In some cases, self-neglect can also be an issue. A senior may be technically able to care for themselves, but may refuse to do so out of depression. This is why it’s important to check in with senior loved ones often, both to ensure they’re well cared for and to help to stave off loneliness and depression. Some signs of self-neglect can include refusing to eat, drink, take medicine, or care for themselves hygienically.
Whether caring for themselves or working with a caretaker, it’s very beneficial for your senior loved one to have an advocate on their side. At CJ & Associates, we offer counseling as well as assessments and evaluation of care management. Contact us today to learn more.