June 15th was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
What is elder abuse?
- Elder abuse is any action or lack of action that brings harm to an older person by someone who is in a relationship of trust (such as caregiver and even a family member).
- The definition of elder abuse has expanded over time to include several different types of abuse (physical, psychological or emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect).
- Elder abuse and self-neglect are not the same. Resident to resident abuse in institutional care is not always considered to be elder abuse.
Long-Distance Caregiving: Checking For Signs of Abuse
- Know the signs of elder abuse, including bruises, unusual depression, bedsores and poor hygiene.
- If an elder you know is in physical danger contact the police right away.
- If you suspect abuse but there is no immediate risk contact the elder’s doctor or home health agency.
- For independent elders, self-neglect may be a sign that they need other care or living arrangements.
As the number of older adults continues to increase worldwide, the issue of elder abuse should remain top of mind. Financial exploitation is this year’s theme and according to the United Nations, this type of abuse is a common and serious problem, affecting between 5-10% of older people globally. Whether it’s by a family member or a scammer in another country, financial exploitation of the elderly can lead to not having enough money to pay for basic needs, including housing, food and healthcare.
It’s important to understand that older people may also experience other kinds of abuse, including physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect. Sadly, elder abuse often goes unreported because the victim is embarrassed or unable to report it due to cognitive and other impairments.
The problem of elder abuse should be a concern to us all, yet we often fail to recognize the symptoms.
Here is an excellent link to important resources on this topic: https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/hitting-the-headlines/detail/hitting-the-headlines/2017/06/15/elder-abuse
A Community News blog post
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