I had to do a re-read of a recent article appearing in the Tennessean.com regarding the prevalence of elder abuse– or perhaps more accurately the prevalence of un-reported elder abuse in Tennessee. The article cites a report from The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability that estimate just 1 out of 23 cases of elder abuse get reported to authorities.
While there may be a number of reasons why elder abuse goes unreported, a primary reason the article points to is the fact that most elder abuse is perpetrated by caregivers who control the individuals access to the outside world– and hence their ability to report the abusive situation to authorities and/or allow others to notice the abuse and report it to authorities.
Importantly, the article also points out that there are varying types of elder abuse aside from flat out assault or battery of an elder. Other types of abuse such as intentional isolation or neglect are common situations encountered by the elderly reliant on a facility or caregiver for their daily living needs.
Similarly, many elders are frightened to report abusive situations involving caregivers because they fear they may be retaliated upon for coming forward with the abuse.
Hopefully, articles such as this will direct more attention to this important issue. Too often, I see well-meaning caregivers and families living in denial with respect to the fact that their loved one is as risk for abuse or neglect.
Hopefully, articles such as this will provide a needed wake-up call for families and caregivers and perhaps cause them to be more aware of potentially abusive situations. Common indicators of elder abuse include:
- Unknown bruising / fractured bones
- Sudden change in behavior
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Large withdrawals from financial accounts
- Dirty living conditions
- Bed sores
As I have been witness, when authorities are contacted as soon after a suspected incident as possible, they are most likely to be successful in determining the abusive perpetrators. Unfortunately, as times goes on, memories fade and valuable evidence has a way of disappearing.
For more information on nursing homes in Tennessee look here.