How Extensive Is The Elder Abuse Problem?

abused-elderly-woman-201x300In 2010, almost 6 million reports of elder abuse were reported, which as high as the number may sound may just be the tip of the iceberg.

The National Center on Elder Abuse is convinced this number is way below the actual amount of victims that are being abused as many times it happens behind closed doors and is not reported. If this is the case, the problem may be much more extensive than we even realize.

Abuse of Elderly At Home

The number place that elder abuse happens is at home, with their families. The very people who are supposed to be protecting and caring for them in their old age are often the worst perpetrators. Of all the elder abuse cases that are reported, their own families are abusing the majority of elderly.

  • In 2010, 66% of elderly abuse was perpetrated by an adult child or spouse, however 90% of elder abuse is thought to be done by a relative or friend of the victim
  • The most common type of abuse reported was neglect
  • 66% of murder victims over the age of 60 were killed by their children or spouse
  • Both men and women abuse about equally. Although elderly women are more likely to be abused than men, about two-thirds of all victims, the abuser could be either gender.

Signs Of Elderly Abuse

Even though neglect is the most common type, there are many other kinds of elder abuse. There is physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse as well. Some signs that a person may be being abused are:

  • Physical. Any signs of bruises, especially bruises the same size of a finger or hand. Restraint is a type of physical abuse and may be done by actually physical restraining the person, or could be over medicating them, or taking away their walking devices.
  • Neglect. This comes in many forms, including lack of food and water, filthy clothes or beds or they may have bed or pressure sores. If an elderly person looks unkempt or smells foul, there may be abuse in the form of neglect going on.
  • Emotional. If caregivers are yelling, berating or scolding the elderly person, these may be signs of elderly abuse. When caregivers refuse to let people see or talk with the elderly person or allow them to be with others alone, this is an indicator some abuse may be going on.
  • Financial. If a caregiver is receiving generous “gifts” from the elderly person yet bills are going unpaid, this is a big warning signal. This type of abuse can often go unnoticed when someone else is taking care of an elderly person’s finances for them until it is too late and all the money is gone

Unfortunately, when a family member is the one who is doing the abuse, the victim may never report it and may even defend the abuser to others. They may feel guilty that they need to be taken care of and feel that their abuse in some way is justifiable. Since this is so often the case, we will never know the true extent of abuse that is happening every day to the elderly. The best we can due is to be their advocates and report any signs of abuse that we witness.

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