Posts tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

Save a Life: Learn How to Prevent Elder Abuse

The senior population is rapidly growing thanks to the baby boomers who are reaching senior citizen age. And senior are living longer than they ever have before. Sure, hitting 80 is a great achievement, but are you really considered old until you are 90?

There are a lot of issues facing seniors: their bodies are not functioning as well, spouses die and their minds are not as sharp. But one of the scariest and most hidden issues is elder abuse. Crimes against children tend to be more outward and easily spotted because children are constantly cared for (which they should be). But seniors are often left alone and not given such round the clock care, making them easy to be forgotten. And just like children, seniors are often unable to be heard when something is amiss.

The statistics for elder abuse are shocking: at least 3.5 millions senior are victims of elder abuse, but this number is grossly underrated because elder abuse often goes unreported or undiscovered. And the worst part? Most elder abuse is committed by family members or supposed loved ones.

Elder abuse comes in many forms: physical, mental, emotional and financial exploitation. Simply, elder abuse is any act by a caregiver (someone who cares for the individual in one way or another) that is harmful to the senior. Seniors who are mentally isolated (Alzheimer’s, dementia, other mental illness) or physically isolated (lives alone, not a lot of friends or contacts). Unfortunately, elder abuse is often about the strong taking advantage of the weak.

How do you recognize elder abuse? Physical or sexual abuse will often have physical signs like unexplained bruises, injuries that cannot be explained. The senior will act similar to a child who is abused: withdrawn, timid and scared. Recognizing the abuse can be tricky if the senior hides the injuries. If you notice that the senior acts different around the caregiver, be alarmed.

Emotional abuse will have similar effects. The senior will seem withdrawn, scared and often times depressed. Emotional abuse would involved putting the victim down, shouting, and keeping them isolated from others (not letting anyone see them, locking them up, etc).

Neglect is a big issue. Neglect would include not feeding the senior, cleaning the home, not taking them to the doctor, etc. Neglect can also be self-imposed. If a senior is refusing to eat, shower, bathe or see a doctor that is considered self-neglect.

And the final form of abuse, financial exploitation. Financial exploitation is very common with family members. The senior will be missing money or valuables. They will not be able to explain large withdrawals or purchases or any sudden will changes. This was something I was warned about when I worked as a teller at the bank. We were to look out for anyone who seemed like they were coercing a senior to make any transactions.

For any type of elder abuse, call Adult Protective Services. Seniors are often not able to advocate for themselves, and they need help if family members are taking advantage of them.

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