Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day!
Hey everybody! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you all are having an enjoyable week. Today were going to talk about elder abuse. Elder abuse isn’t always as easy to spot as we’d think. The biggest problem with elder abuse is that there are a lot of gray areas where it isn’t immediately apparent that it’s going on. A lot of elder abuse signs can be vague or seem easy to blame on other reasonable causes. It is particularly difficult when it comes to seniors who are unable to communicate what is going on, or have memory issues such as dementia. There are many forms of elder abuse as well. It isn’t just physical abuse. We have to learn to recognize the signs of elder abuse when they staring us in the face in order to protect the people who are most vulnerable. It’s hard to fathom that people would want to harm people who are dependent on them, but it happens a lot more than you’d think. So, today we’re going to talk about the different forms of elder abuse so that we can learn how to best protect our loved ones from being taken advantage of or mistreated in any way. There are six different types of elder abuse. That may surprise you, but when we go over all of them you’ll understand why there are that many classifications and differentiations.
The first type of elder abuse is also the most obvious category, physical abuse. I’m sure we all know that physical abuse is any sort of bodily harm, pain, impairment or restraint that a person intentionally subjects another person to. Most often, abusers are people who provide care to the senior. This could be a family member, or nurse, or other type of caregiver. Usually, the abuse takes place where the senior lives, which can be either at home, or is a nursing facility. This is so concerning because we trust professionals to care for our loved ones. It’s very scary to imagine that someone who works in caregiving capacity would not have the patients well being as their first priority. Sadly, though, there are many instances of aids and nursing home employees who abuse the residents. Some signs of physical abuse are much more subtle than others. So, what are the signs? Signs of physical abuse can include unusual bruising, broken bones, dislocations, burns, abrasions, internal organ damage, and patterns of bruising or abrasions that resemble straps or ropes. One of the things that make physical abuse easier to spot is bilateral bruising, or somewhat symmetrical bruising. Any kind of injury that appears pretty evenly on both sides indicates that something is wrong. It would be very unusual for bilateral bruises, abrasions, or injuries to occur naturally. Multicolored bruises across the body that indicate that the injuries were sustained over many different days are also a sign. There are also behavioral indicators of physical abuse. If the explanations for the injury seem unlikely or improbable, it should raise a red flag, especially if a caregiver provides a different story or the story changes. Abusers may take the senior to different hospitals for every injury, so that hospital staff does not recognize a pattern of abuse. The senior may also seem to act differently when the abuser is around.
The second type of elder abuse is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse obviously includes rape, and molestation, but also includes any sexual conduct with a person who is not in a mental state to understand or consent to it. Sexual abuse of seniors tends to occur at the hands of caretakers. These are usually people who are responsible for intimate care, such as bathing, changing diapers, dressing, and other tasks. Unfortunately, sometimes one resident at a facility may assault another resident, too. Most victims of elder sexual abuse are women, but men have been victimized as well. People with cognitive disabilities or physical disabilities are at the highest risk, particularly if they have dementia and don’t have a big support system that spends time with them. Seniors who are isolated, maybe because their children live far away or family members can’t visit often, are also at a higher risk for being abused in some way. Bruising on the inner thighs or outer genitalia are signs of abuse. Other signs of sexual abuse include torn, stained, or bloody underwear, pain or bleeding, difficulty sitting or walking, and STD’s.
The third type of elder abuse is domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs with an intimate partner, such as a significant other or spouse. Domestic violence is characterized by an intimate partner using or threatening violence in order to manipulate or control the other person’s behavior. This can occur in seniors either as a continuation of domestic violence that began many years ago, or as late onset domestic abuse, where there was no history of domestic abuse. Late onset domestic violence can be triggered by retirement, disability, changing roles, sexual changes, or other situations where the other person may feel helpless, out of control, or inferior. Some seniors can also enter into new relationships that are abusive. Most frequently, senior victims of domestic violence are women. Women whose spouses have a history of domestic violence are particularly at risk.
The fourth type of elder abuse is psychological abuse. Psychological abuse consists of intentional emotional or mental suffering inflicted on a senior through threats, humiliation, or any other type of verbal or non-verbal behavior. Psychological abuse can look different across different cultures. Seniors who are isolated are particularly at risk for psychological abuse, especially when the abuser is responsible for their caregiving. There may be some physical indications of psychological abuse. Things to watch for are unexplained weight loss that is unexplained or not attributed to other health issues. Signs of elevated stress are also something to watch for. This could include high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, self-soothing habits such as playing with fingers or tapping or shaking legs. Psychologically abused seniors may develop difficulty sleeping or other sleep disturbances. They may be experiencing new or worsened anxiety or depression. Their behavior may change when in the presence of their abuser, such as looking at the floor or becoming passive. They may also become withdrawn, both emotionally and physically. They may be unresponsive, or become irritable, agitated, or upset. They may also exhibit signs of dementia, such as rocking, biting, or sucking.
The fifth type of elder abuse is financial abuse. Financial abuse is more prevalent than you might assume, particularly by strangers. Things that constitute financial abuse are telemarketing scams, email scams, fraud, forging of signature for financial benefit, taking money or property, manipulating a senior into signing a will, deed, or power of attorney through coercion or deception, or any other situation in which somebody manipulates a senior for personal gain at their expense. Seniors with family members suffering from any kind of addiction are at a higher risk for financial abuse. Abusers are usually people in financial trouble, people who stand to inherit money, people who feel a sense of entitlement to the senior’s money, people who pretend to be in love with the senior, people who become confidants, people who overcharge for their services, people who use their position of power to influence a senior in compliance. Because people over 50 control over 70 percent of wealth in this country, seniors make an attractive target. To discover financial abuse, one must carefully look over bank statements, bills, and legal documents for anything unusual.
The last kind of elder abuse is neglect, and self neglect which is when a senior allows harm to come to them by refusing help. Neglect is when a caregiver fails to perform their responsibilities in caring for the senior. There are two types of neglect: passive and active. Active neglect is when the caregiver withholds care consciously and intentionally. Motives for active neglect may be to manipulate the senior for personal gain, or as a way to control or gain leverage over the senior. Passive neglect is when the caregiver is unable to provide the care they are responsible for due to disability, illness, lack of time or ability to perform tasks, lack of resources, or addiction. Self-neglect occurs when the senior is responsible for their lack of care, and there is no perpetrator. Caregivers, whether they are paid or family members, are typically the ones responsible for neglect. Neglect is more common in seniors with health issues that require a great deal of care. Caregivers may become overwhelmed or exhausted, which can result in neglect.
Thanks for reading! I hope this clarifies the many aspects of elder abuse that may occur, and helps you to identify it if it happens. See you guys back here in a couple days.
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