What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is a general term used to describe mistreatment or harm done to older men or women. This act of abuse may be a one time incident or may occur repeatedly over a period of time.

According to the World Health Organization, many incidents of abuse are perpetrated by an individual who the victim trusts. Some forms of abuse are recognized as family or domestic violence cases.

  • Help Guide: Here you will find warning signs, risk factors, prevention and a help guide.
  • Basics of Abuse: Overview, prevention, screening, conditions and related issues regarding the abuse of elders.
  • About NCEA: The National Center of Elder Abuse gives statistics and explains why you should care about this important issue.
  • Prevent Abuse: Information from the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA).
  • What Is Elder Abuse? Here you will find a description of what constitutes abuse of the elderly, warning signs and resources.

There are several types of abuse that can manifest in people of all difference backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, colors and race. The most common types include emotional, physical, sexual, neglect and exploitation.

Psychological or emotional abuse includes yelling, swearing, humiliating or freighting the elder into a particular action. Physical abuse can include slapping, hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, confinement, restraining or supplying false or excessive medication. Sexual abuse is when an individual forces an elder to participate in sexual activity or sexual conversations against their will.

Neglect against elders is when food, clothing, heat, medication or other essential is deprived from the elder for whatever purpose. Exploitation involves illegal use of the elderly person's money, property, pension or valuables. Signs of abuse may include the elderly person feeling depressed, withdrawn, anxious or afraid to make their own decisions.

They may tell someone they trust that they are being abused, sleep too much or be unable to sleep, hide something from a caregiver, avoid going to a doctor or may run away from their residence.

  • Crimes of Violence: Find information on the various types of abuse including financial, physical, emotional and neglect.
  • Suspected Abuse: Overview and help guide from the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect.
  • National Institute of Justice: Here you will find information regarding abuse as a criminal problem.
  • Elderly Abuse Hotline: Call the Elder Abuse and Neglect Hotline or Central Registry Unit (CRU) for all reports of alleged abuse.
  • Abuse in Nursing Homes: Statistics on victimization that occurs inside nursing homes throughout the years.
  • Attorney General: Tips for caregivers and family members to help identify abuse.

The abuser can be anyone from a paid care worker, partner, spouse, relative, friend, neighbor or practitioner. The perpetrators of elder abuse are typically anyone the elder trusts or is in a position of authority. It commonly occurs in families for financial reasons as in an advanced inheritance, money, valuables or property.

When dealing with a paid care worker, abuse can occur for a pure sense of satisfaction, lack of knowledge or training or insufficient resources of the facility. It can occur in any place where the senior resides or visits, such as medical facilities, the homes of friends, family members and neighbors, and even their own home or place or residence.

Some cases of abuse are not reported, especially in situations when the elder is unable to protect themselves or tell authorities. This is common when the elder is immobile, paralyzed, relies on their abusive caretaker or has a medical condition that makes it hard to understand the situation, as in dementia. One can help prevent abuse by being informed, knowing the common signs and agencies that can help.

Monitor your loved one's care, keep notes and medical records and check the physical and emotional condition of the resident on a regular basis. During and after and incident of abuse has been confirmed, family and friends should follow up with law enforcement and plan frequent visits on different days and times of the week. It's extremely important to help the victim work through the situation and stay connected, giving reassurance and a sense of safety.

If you suspect abuse has occurred, it's important to report it immediately to law enforcement to stop the abuse before it is repeated. When abusers are removed from the homes of elderly residents, they are then able to live happy and healthy lives.

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