The Most Common Ways of Elderly Abuse

You may have heard the saying “once a man, twice a child” before. It’s a simple phrase that speaks to the natural ageing process that the human body goes through. Initially, the body adopts a frail state, eventually becoming strong enough to allow someone to become self-sufficient. As time goes on, and a person approaches the age of senescence, the body again begins to regress to a frailer state.

Additionally, many seniors begin to experience mental issues as they age. The combination of psychological and physical factors creates a dependency on others for basic and advanced needs. Unfortunately, the said dependence means that they cannot stand up well to the various forms of abuse they may receive. As disheartening as it may be, abuse of the elderly is not a new phenomenon. Below is a look at some of the ways that abuse of older adults take place in society.

Abandonment and Neglect

Elderly abandonment is one of the most unfortunate situations that dependent seniors can have to deal with. Thousands of senior citizens experience this, and many of them have no way to cope. This form of abuse of the elderly is identifiable in the form of a partial or complete lack of care displayed by a designated caregiver.

When someone is responsible for a senior’s care, there is an expected level of support that should be extended. Unfortunately, some caregivers fail to provide the level of care needed, while others completely abandon the senior citizen. This concept does not necessarily mean that the caregiver is intentionally guilty of the act. While it can be intentional, there are some cases in which the neglect stems from ignorance of the senior citizen’s needs.

Financial Abuse

Elderly financial abuse is another very big problem, especially since a senior citizen does not have a younger adult’s earning potential. Whenever a person exploits a vulnerable senior financially, it’s described as financial abuse of the elderly. Coercion, harassment, duress, and deception are some of the circumstances under which the senior’s assets are taken away.

While each jurisdiction may define financial abuse of the elderly in different ways, here are some of the commonly reported ways under which this unfortunate circumstance takes place:

  • Insurance fraud or sale of inappropriate products
  • Provision of irrelevant or out of compliance mortgage plans to seniors
  • Lottery scamming to solicit payments from seniors illegally
  • Theft of a senior citizen’s assets
  • Misusing the assets of a senior citizen by forgery, record falsification, etc.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does cover some of their most frequent examples of elderly financial abuse.

Healthcare Abuse

As you can imagine, a deteriorating physical and mental state necessitates greater attention to health care needs. Therefore, doctors, nurses, and other care providers need to pay special attention to their senior patients. Unfortunately, many of them commit health care abuse by engaging in unethical practices, including but not limited to:

  • Medicaid fraud
  • Inflating the prices of medical bills
  • Charging seniors for healthcare that was not provided
  • Exploiting the referral or prescription system for personal gain
  • Administering too much or too little medication
  • Intentionally prescribing incorrect medication¬†

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Among all the different types of abuse discussed here, the emotional and psychological forms of abuse of the elderly are among the most common. Various circumstances often prevent senior abuse victims from making reports, so it creates an unfortunate situation where one of the most prevalent forms of abuse flies under the radar.

Any situation in which an older person’s treatment results in emotional or psychological pain or suffering is considered emotional abuse. Of course, the lack of any physical evidence makes this very dangerous. Frequent forms of emotional maltreatment take verbal and nonverbal forms. Examples are as follows:

  • Ignoring seniors
  • Talking down to the elderly
  • Hiding personal belongings
  • Restricting interactions and socializing
  • Blaming and scapegoating
  • Embarrassing the senior
  • Screaming and yelling

Sexual Abuse

A senior citizen’s state often makes it harder than usual to resist the various forms of sexual abuse that may occur. The nature of acceptable sexual conduct requires a complete understanding of and consent to whatever is taking place. As is the case with other age groups, once both things are not in place for a senior, this creates a situation of sexual abuse.

Note that it does not always have to come from a caregiver. Other seniors in facilities, visitors, family members, etc., can commit sexual abuse of the elderly. Here are some ways in which this takes place:

  • Withholding desired sexual conduct
  • Using unfavourable sexual descriptive terms, such as “dried up”
  • Conditioning the senior in a manner that prevents denial of sexual advances
  • Promiscuity
  • Using threats to solicit sex
  • Sexual jokes about seniors
  • Uninvited touching

Physical Abuse

While physical abuse of elderly persons is a common and unfortunate situation, it is also much easier than some other kinds to detect and take action against. That’s because this occurrence tends to leave evidence behind when it takes place. The frail physical nature of the average senior citizen means that the damage done is often highly disproportionate to the level of force exerted.

Note that there are situations in which a person can physically accidentally harm an elderly individual. Once there was no intent behind the act, it is not termed as physical abuse. However, once nonaccidental harmful actions are taken, and physical pain or discomfort occurs, the situation becomes abusive.

There does not necessarily have to be the typical assault types of abuse, such as hitting, choking, pushing, etc. Physically confining or restricting the senior citizen via restraints or drugs also counts as physical abuse. Abrasions, broken bones, bruises, and other forms of physical trauma are often reliable sources of evidence that an abusive situation is at play.

What Can You Do if Abuse Is Suspected?

If you suspect that someone is committing any form of abuse of the elderly, the best thing to do is to report it to the relevant authorities for investigation. Calling the police or any organization in your country that is dedicated to senior citizens’ welfare is the best way to go.

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