500,000 to 1,000,000 American elders are abused each year. For every case that is reported, another 12 to 13 are not. Elderly abuse can occur in a relative’s or elder's home, or at long-term care facilities. Seniors are often abused by caretakers or members of their own family, as they are too fragile, sick or weak to stand up for themselves and fight back.
Types of Elder Abuse
- Physical: Force used against an elderly person that causes physical pain, injury or impairment; the inappropriate use of drugs or confinement.
- Emotional: Verbally abused through yelling, threatening, humiliating or blaming; can also be abused by being ignored or isolated from friends and family.
- Sexual: Any type of sexual contact with an elderly person without their consent.
- Financial Exploitation: The unauthorized use of an elder’s funds or property (includes the misuse of personal checks, credit cards or accounts).
- Healthcare Fraud and Abuse: Doctors, nurses and health care providers performing unethical acts (i.e charging for health care without providing it, overcharging for medical services, overmedicating or under medicating, or Medicaid fraud).
Signs of Elder Abuse
- Bruises, burns, broken bones or any type of injury that may indicate abuse or neglect.
- Depression, sudden withdrawal from normal activities or change in alertness.
- Changes in financial situations, suspicious will changes or unpaid bills.
- Poor hygiene, weight loss or dehydration.
- Unsanitary living conditions.
- Fights between the patient and caregiver or relative.
To reduce elder abuse, a witness should intervene by listening to the victim and reporting the abuse to Adult Protective Services (APS). By taking action and educating others about the signs and symptoms of abuse, the number of cases reported can reduce, as many elders can finally feel safe and properly taken care of.
Administration on Aging