Top Signs of Elder Abuse and Neglect Everyone Should Know About (2021)
People often choose to trust the care of their older relative`s health and wellbeing to professional caregivers and specialized nursing home and such decisions are entirely justified.
The fact that your beloved relatives remain under professional supervision guarantees qualified and relevant medical assistance round the clock along with sufficient psychological support.
However, in some instances, older people become victims of severe abuse and neglect instead. Unfortunately, it is pretty common that such outrageous cases remain unnoticed for quite too long and often lead to extreme physical and mental suffering.
Knowing the signs of elder abuse and neglect and recognizing them as early as possible is the only way to put an end to this horrifying practice. Moreover, once we hear about nursing home abuse cases pretty often, family member abuse is yet another practice with rather disturbing statistics. The statistics of such cases are alarming. According to data openly provided by World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 6 people over 60 years old have experienced some sort of abuse. Moreover, 2 out of 3 employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities admit that they have somehow been involved in elderly abuse cases.
That is why as many people as possible must learn to recognize various physical and psychological abuse signs to ensure that our elderly receive the care, protection, and love they truly deserve.
At Sunflower Home Health Care Services, we have a zero tolerance policy on abuse. We train our Home Health Aides to recognize and report signs of abuse immediately. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our policies, please contact us.
People most vulnerable to Elder Abuse and Neglect
Technically each citizen that is older than 60 years old can become particularly vulnerable to threats of abuse and neglect that can either come from their relatives or professional caregivers.
However, data shows that some might run a greater risk of becoming an abuse victims. Certain factors may determine how vulnerable you or your older relative may become to such outrageous cases:
Gender – statistically, over 60% of older citizens who became victims of neglect or abuse (including sexual abuse) are women. It is also essential to highlight that women tend to cover and conceal the fact of being abused. Some experts claim that this is the leading cause of such statistics being understated;
Age – logically, the older a person is, the higher are their chances to become an abuse victim. Statistically, people over 80 years old are those who suffer most both from a family member and nursing home neglect;
Health Condition – those who suffer from mental health issues, primarily age-related ones like Dementia and Alzheimer appear on top of elder abuse statistics;
Caregiver – statistically, an older citizen who appears in a nursing home or any other long-term care giving facility is more likely to become a victim of abusive behavior than the one who uses the services of a private caregiver at home.
Types of Elder Abuse
Technically, there are two main types of elder abuse:
Abuse and neglect that comes from the nursing facility or professional caregiver;
Home care neglect or abuse.
They both have pretty severe convergence points and are often intercorrelated which is why it is so hard to distinguish between them and recognize them.
We are used to trusting family members as well as certified and seemingly qualified professionals and so we often find it hard to believe that a certain damage or injury results from neglect or abuse.
This is why experts have distinguished 4 different types of elder abuse and their signs to make such cases more visible for the 3rd party:
Signs of physical abuse;
Signs of sexual abuse;
Signs of emotional abuse;
Signs of financial abuse.
Let`s go through those signs and their distinctive features that should be most alarming for a relative, caregiver, or neutral observer who may suspect that a given older citizen may be a victim of abusive behavior.
Elder Physical Abuse
Some may say that physical abuse is the most obvious one. Indeed, it is pretty hard to miss such things as:
Bruises and welts;
Pressure marks and bruises;
Broken bones and joint dislocations, etc.
It is essential to conduct a thorough and careful regular body examination once you suspect that a particular person, whether your older relative or patient, can be a victim of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, nursing home staff often passes injuries for bedsores. The same is valid for neglect at home when fractures and dislocations are often referred to as accidents rather than alarming signs of abuse.
Physical abuse cases are also often passed off as self-harming, which is indeed pretty common among elderly patients who suffer from mental issues or depression. However, it is yet another reason to pay attention to such signs, as it may mean that the symptoms of physical damage may result from severe psychological abuse, which may also come from nurses and family members.
Signs of Elder Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse goes hand-in-hand with physical and emotional abuse. However, this topic is often neglected. We simply prefer not to think about it, which inevitably leads to the fact that statistics of elder sexual abuse are increasing at an alarming rate.
Here are fundamental symptoms that may show that a person can be a victim of sexual abuse:
A person who is not known for being sexually active is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD);
Complaints at irritation or pain at the genital area;
Bruises and other visible damage at thighs and crotch area;
Alarmingly unconventional relationships between a person and their family member or caregiver.
Any sign of sexual abuse has to be addressed immediately, as statistically, in many cases, an older person is not even aware of being a victim of a crime. It often happens to patients diagnosed with mental disease and those prescribed sedative drugs, muscle relaxants, and other specific medications.
Signs of Elder Emotional Abuse
Although emotional scars may be less visible to the public, they can be more damaging. They can cause much more severe suffering for the victim, especially if we talk about an older person.
Moreover, emotional abuse often comes first and inevitably leads to a severe worsening of health conditions which can appear irreversible and even lethal.
Here is what should alarm you:
An older person is trying to isolate from any kind of communication, including talking to family members, friends, personal caregivers, and other people who are supposed to be in the patient`s inner circle;
A person seems to live in an imaginary world making implausible stories about their everyday life although never diagnosed with any mental issue;
An older person who suffers from anger control issues as well as panic attacks, anxiety, etc. is most likely to be a victim of mental abuse or neglect;
Older people who show signs of paranoia seem hesitant to talk freely, especially in the presence of certain family members or caregiving personnel statistically, often appear to suffer from psychological abuse in the first place.
The biggest problem with mental abuse is that the abuser is not aware of their toxic behavior and its consequences in some cases. That is why it is essential to address such symptoms as soon as possible and address them for professional assistance.
Signs of Elderly Financial Abuse
Statistically, older citizens appear the most common victims of financial abuse. In fact, the percentage of elderly becoming victims of fraud and other financial crimes is growing exponentially. And unfortunately, most of those cases involve caregivers or relatives of an older person who depends on them.
Here are some common signs of elderly financial abuse:
Unexplainable transactions that don`t correspond with the person`s character and financial habits;
A senior may report that they cannot access their financial records or bank accounts;
Large sums of money disappear from the person`s account unexplainably.
Once you notice that your older relative or patient complains about financial constraints or any suspicious transactions, purchases, or gifts, there may be a reason to address financial professionals or even authorities to repress or prevent a case of financial crime and abuse.
Elderly Abuse and Neglect
While some may consider elder abuse and neglect the same, those are different matters, which should also be addressed differently.
First of all, abuse and neglect are not necessarily interchangeable. Home care neglect or nurse negligence may not necessarily mean that someone wants to harm an older person. In most cases, neglect is all about insufficient or unqualified care.
However, it does not mean that elderly negligence is less harmful than abuse. It is also essential to recognize its symptoms and react immediately.
Bedsores – unlike intended injuries, bedsores are most often a result of negligence or incompetence of a caregiver;
Lack of hygiene – not only for the patient but their surroundings as well;
Lack of necessary medications as well as aids such as a wheelchair, glasses, hearing aid, etc.;
Staying alone without supervision and assistance for a long time;
Endangering or unfitting living conditions – the lack of necessary safety features in the house and poor house maintenance that leads to power cut-offs, flooding, mold, bug infestations, etc.
When it comes to taking care of our beloved older relatives, it may sometimes be hard to draw a line between the consequences of the person`s health and mental conditions and the results of abuse and negligence.
That is why it is essential to notice the symptoms mentioned above along with the behavior and attitude of people who provide the care, whether those are professional nurses or relatives.
Once you notice any of the alarming abuse or neglect symptoms and see that a person who has constant access to the older citizen is:
Aggressive or shows inadequate reactions to routine situations;
Gives implausible or conflicting explanation about the older person`s injuries or behavior;
Demonstrates unconventional relationships with the patient or older relative;
Keeps the person isolated from any outside contacts;
Those may be additional signals or abusive treatment or neglect. You must take such symptoms seriously and report them immediately to local authorities. That way, you will ensure an older person`s safety and happiness or even prevent irreversible damage or fatal consequences of abuse and neglect.
Are you looking for home health care services in or around Philadelphia, PA?
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If you are unsure about whether or not your loved one is need of Home Care, click here to learn more about the top signs that your loved one may be in need of Home Care.
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Sunflower Home Health Care Services offers a wide range of services including companionship, respite care, hospice care, taking vitals, housekeeping, meal prep, and other medical needs. So if you are looking for the very best care for yourself or your loved ones, get in touch with our team today.