Accredited Home Care employees are always willing to provide information to families about different types of elder abuse, along with sharing some of the possible signs that it may have happened or currently is taking place.
We can also suggest steps people can take to try to make sure it doesn’t happen to a loved one.
This month is a perfect time to increase awareness: June 15 is considered World Elder Abuse Day, an international effort designated by the United Nations to increase understanding of different ways seniors can be abused or neglected. It also is intended to explore in depth some of the reasons why seniors may be abused or neglected, and encourage individuals, organizations and entire communities to focus on making things better.
The campaign has actually been taking place since 2006. People who want to do more for their respective areas are offered various resources such as a World Elder Abuse Day toolkit.
Essentially, poor treatment of our elders is now seen as a human rights issue that every country and every individual can be a part of trying to find solutions for.
Though it’s useful to focus on the bigger picture of increasing awareness of and reducing elder abuse at a global level, sometimes it helps to learn more about it and define it at a local level.
For instance, the National Council on Aging starts by explaining what is and what isn’t considered elder abuse.
It also provides a better understanding of who gets abused and who can potentially be an abuser. These include:
1 in 10 Americans over age 60 have experienced some type of abuse, which could work out to as many as 5 million people abused annually.
Only 1 in 14 cases reported to authorities, which leads many to conclude that most cases go unreported for various reasons.
Abusers can be male or female, strangers or family members. In 60 percent of cases, the abusers are family members, and two-thirds are adult children or spouses.
The NCOA said that seniors are more at risk of abuse than many age groups for a variety of reasons, including that they are more likely to begin to suffer the effects of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Besides occasionally forgetting things, their actions could be frustrating to untrained caregivers such as family members.
People with disabilities are more likely to be abused.
The reasons why abuse occurs can be complex, everything from caregivers growing tired and needing a break to childhood resentments or childhood abuses surfacing. (The abused could become the abuser and vice versa).
Types of abuse
While it’s easy for people to think that elder abuse is mainly physical, such as hitting, slapping or pulling someone under your care, it actually can take a multitude of other forms or several forms at once.
- Simply leaving someone alone for prolonged periods of time can be physically, mentally and emotionally damaging. It can contribute to poor health, such as someone unable to move or go to the bathroom by themselves.
- Leaving a senior alone without a plan for their care or instructions. (such as a parking lot/shopping center)
- Emotional abuse. This can include repeated yelling, regular threats, ignoring over a long period of time, or general hurtful and mean words. It can also include controlling actions such as punishments like not allowing them to see friends or have certain privileges.
- Sexual abuse. This can include sexual assault or exposure to sexual materials.
- Financial abuse. A caregiver may try to take control of or steal someone’s assets, either their bank accounts, credit cards or any other valuables. This can include direct theft or indirect theft, such as convincing or coercing them to give that power. It could also include actions like forging checks, taking Social Security payments, changing names on a will or changing the will entirely. A caregiver who is able to establish a high amount of control over someone in their care may keep other family members from seeing credit card or banking statements, legal documents, check receipts or other information that shows irregular financial transactions are taking place.
- Healthcare abuse. Doctors or other medical professionals may abuse people under their care, everything from causing physical pain to emotional damage. They also could try to defraud the medical system like ordering extra supplies or prescriptions for a patient but not giving them to the patient.
Home health care can help
Family members seeking an effective caregiver in the El Cajon area shouldn’t have to worry about the potential for elder abuse, but it is an unfortunate reality of our world.
One option is to hire a professional and specially trained caregiver and home health professional, rather than a family friend or member or neighbor. This way, proper protocols will be followed and caregivers often receive high amounts of training, certification and background checks.
For more information, visit Accredited Home Care.