It is difficult for your loved ones who are getting older to do things on their own. As their health deteriorates, they become dependent on others in performing their daily tasks. The fact that they find it difficult to take care of themselves is one reason why some people take advantage of their weakness or mistreat them. This term is referred to as elder abuse.
Anyone age 60 or older can be a victim of elder abuse. If your caregiver or family member has harmed or neglected you, it is considered as an abuse. Even in a nursing facility or assisted living, abuse can take place. Unfortunately, older people keep silent because of fear and embarrassment. By keeping your eyes open and knowing the signs to look for, you will be able to keep your loved ones safe.
What are the types of elder abuse?
It is important to understand that there are many types of abuse. It is not just limited to physical harm because abuse can be psychological, sexual or even financial.
Physical Abuse is the most common type of abuse. It inflicts physical injury or bodily harm into the patient. Some examples of physical abuse include shoving, kicking, burning or hitting an older person. There are instances when an elderly cannot keep still because they need something from their caregiver or they are not feeling well.
Caregivers who are stressed with the older patient’s behavior often resorts to tying the patient to a wheelchair, or a bed. There are also instances when patients are locked in a room. Others are also forced into taking drugs that the doctor has not prescribed.
You will know that an older person suffers from physical abuse if you see visible injuries. If you know an older friend, neighbor or family member with unexplained cuts, bruises, burns, and bleeding, you need to be alarmed as these are warning signs of abuse. Watch out for injuries that are happening over and over. If you offer help by accompanying the older person to the doctor and he or she refuses, it could be due to fear.
Sexual abuse is another type of abuse which involves forcing an older person to have sexual contact with the caregiver or another person. This type of abuse may also involve making the older patient watch pornographic materials or taking off his or her clothes to inappropriately touch him or her. Sexual abuse may also show some physical signs like torn or bloody clothes, bruises, sexually transmitted diseases or vaginal bleeding.
Psychological abuse affects an older person emotionally. When a caregiver or someone who takes care of him or her threatens an older person, it can bruise the patient emotionally. Even yelling at them, calling them names or ignoring them can have a traumatic effect on the patient. An older person is suffering from psychological abuse if he acts frightened or withdrawn.
You should also observe if there are changes in their behavior that you cannot easily explain. Older people who are victims of physical abuse also become confused or depressed. They also lose interest in the things they used to enjoy. A psychologically abused person also has trouble sleeping.
Financial abuse is another common abuse that involves threatening an older person’s property or money. There are instances when older people suffer from dementia. This condition makes it difficult for them to remember things. Their abuser takes advantage of the situation by using the older person’s bank accounts or credits without their permission. It may also involve changing the will and other legal documents by forging the older person’s signature. There are other aspects of financial abuse that need attention.
Due to the fact that the older person has no ability to defend himself, he would no longer care about being charged too much for medical care, home repair or billing. There are also groups who ask for donations from older people even when the charities they represent do not exist. The signs of financial abuse may include unexplained withdrawals from the patient’s bank accounts, legal documents that have disappeared or have been altered, missing financial statements, forged signatures, and unpaid utilities and bills.
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