World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Written by Jeff Meyer on June 15, 2015
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Let’s Review the Five Signs for Spotting Potential Mistreatment of Seniors
Elder abuse is a serious problem throughout the United States – so much so that June 15th is now considered Elder Abuse Awareness Day. While many may not realize that elder abuse is such an issue, each year over two million cases are reported, and it is estimated that millions more go unreported. Elder abuse occurs in a variety of forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
Risk Factors of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can occur both at home and in nursing home settings. Generally, the abuse occurs due to the senior’s physical and emotional vulnerability and weakness. This is often due to their inability to care for themselves, which results in their reliance on others. Unfortunately, it is often those others who are abusive and/or neglectful of these vulnerable seniors. Additionally, there are other risks factors that have been found to increase an elderly person’s risk for being abused, including:
- Suffering from severe illness
- Moderate to severe dementia
- Living with a single caregiver
- Verbal or physical aggressiveness on the part of the senior
- Being abusive or aggressive towards others earlier in life
- Previous history of violence in the home
- Social isolation
While these risk factors are often seen when elderly patients are cared for in the home, they also occur in nursing home facilities. Due to this, it is important that you understand the signs of elder abuse in order to help loved one or acquaintance who may be suffering. The following are five of the most common signs of potential abuse that both family and friends can recognize.
Physical Signs of Neglect and Abuse
There are a few different physical signs of elder abuse that should be cause for concern. You should take the time to consider any bedsores, bruises or broken bones – regardless of the explanations you receive for them. If a senior frequently has unexplained bruises or broken bones, these are serious indicators that he or she may be dealing with abuse. Pressure sores, which are often called bedsores, are a sign of neglect that should be monitored closely. These sores are the result of infrequent moving, and they can quickly lead to infection and death if they are not treated appropriately.
Statistics show that over 75 percent of all nursing homes in the US are understaffed, and this is a significant concern. Understaffed facilities tend to have higher numbers of falls, most of which are preventable. While these facilities may have qualified caregivers, there are not enough of them to properly address the needs and attention that elderly residents require.
Many nursing home patients require antipsychotic drugs as a part of their care. However, many patients receive the medication as a means of controlling their behavior. If a loved one often appears ‘out of it’, dizzy, depressed or seems to have little interest in things previously enjoyed, overmedication could be a factor.
Refusing To Speak
Some seniors suffering from abuse may refuse to speak if their caregivers are present. This is often a sign that emotional or physical abuse is occurring when the two are one on one, leading to the senior being afraid of retaliation or increased abuse.
Sudden Weight Loss
If an elderly person seems to be losing weight quickly, this could be a sign that he or she is not receiving proper nourishment. This can be due to not being fed frequently enough, or receiving too little food and nutrients.
If you notice any of these signs of elder abuse, or have any other reason to believe a loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, make sure to report the situation immediately.