August 28, 2013
Incidents of elder abuse, financial exploitation and neglect increase as our senior population grows. According to the American Psychological Association (2013) and estimated 4 million seniors each year are “victims of physical, psychological or other forms of abuse.” For every case reported, an average of 23 cases go unnoticed.
Most abuse happens to seniors within their own homes, often by people that they know. Helplessness, loneliness, fear and shame often prevent seniors from disclosing abusive events. While there is no definitive pattern to describe elder abuse, senior citizens are often easy targets for financial scams.
Abuse happens for many reasons. Sometimes it is a matter of illness or stress. Other times it can result from family problems, intergenerational and marital problems, years of stored anger, an overwhelmed sense of emotion or social isolation.
It is important to know the signs of elder abuse. “As a caregiver, I am one of the biggest preventers of elder abuse by evaluating how they are doing physically, emotionally and mentally. … As a caregiver, not only am I responsible for assistance with simple activities of daily life, but I also have the opportunity to be a voice against violence and all forms of elder abuse,” Home Instead caregiver Scarlette States said.
According to the American Psychological Association, the following are warning signs of potential abuse:
• Physical: Unexplained bruises, injuries, welts, dismissive statements and unwillingness to go to the same emergency department for repeated injuries.
•Verbal/emotional/psychological: Change in communication, such as becoming fearful, suspicious, unresponsive and demonstrating decline in social contacts.
• Sexual: unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding; torn underwear; bruises on private parts; infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
•Financial: Large amounts of money withdrawn from the bank accounts; life events do not match financial statements; unusual ATM activity; signatures that do not match
• Caregiver neglect: Lack of basic needs, sunken eyes, weight loss, unsafe environments for person with dementia, untreated bed sores and lack of medical aids such as glasses, hearing aids or walker.
Finding help: If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. If you suspect abuse or have experienced abuse, contact your local police, local area agency on aging, crisis shelter or AWARE.
Michele Dubel is the relationship manager for Home Instead Senior Care, which provides companionship, home helper, and personal care services to seniors. For information, call (724) 535-6101.
SOURCE: The Ellwood City Ledger
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