Elder Abuse

Many elderly people rely entirely on family or other trusted individuals to help them. Whether it is for physical needs or emotional needs, as people grow older they tend to need more and more help from others. This dependence on caregivers or family members makes an older person more vulnerable for abuse.

For example, an older person relying on her children to provide meals and transportation and help her with financial decisions finds it difficult to complain when one of her children takes advantage of her. If, for instance, the child takes her money, hits her or neglects her care, the parent may be threatened with loss of support from the child if the parent complains. The child may also use threats of violence to keep the parent in line.

It is estimated that 5% to 10% of elderly Americans are suffering abuse. Much attention has been focused on abuse in nursing homes but most of the elder abuse in this country is at the hands of family members or other caregivers in the home.

Signs of Abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, fractures, abrasions or lacerations
  • Multiple bruises in various stages of healing
  • Multiple/repeat injuries
  • Low self-esteem or loss of self determination
  • Withdrawn, passive
  • Fearful
  • Depressed, hopeless
  • Soiled linen or clothing
  • Social Isolation

All states have agencies that receive complaints of abuse. In some states failure to report abuse of the elderly is a crime. To contact an abuse complaint department, call your local area agency on aging. To find an area agency on aging in your area go to http://www.longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/ref_state_aging_services.htm

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