Elder abuse can include:
Acts of violence, such as hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, choking, or burning. The inappropriate use of medicines or physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.
Forced sexual contact or sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent. It includes unwanted touching and all kinds of sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, forced nudity, and sexually explicit photography.
Emotional or psychological abuse, such as name-calling, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. Treating an older person like a baby, giving an older person the “silent treatment,” and isolating him or her from family, friends, or regular activities are examples of emotional or psychological abuse.
Neglect such as failing to provide an older person with food, clothing, personal shelter, or other essentials, such as medical care or medicines. Neglect can also include failing to pay nursing home or assisted-living facility costs for an older person if you have a legal responsibility to do so.
Abandonment or desertion of an older person by a person who has the physical or legal responsibility for providing care.
Illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds, property, or assets. This includes forging an older person’s signature, stealing money, or possessions, or tricking an older person into signing documents that transfer funds, property, or assets.
RISK FACTORS for elder abuse:
Abuse of elders is a complex problem with many contributing factors. Risk factors include:
Domestic violence carried over into the elder years. A substantial number of elder abuse cases are abuse by a spouse.
Personal problems of caregivers. People who abuse older adults (particularly the adult children) are often dependent on the older person for financial help and other support. This is often due to personal problems such as mental illness, or other dysfunctional personality traits. The risk of elder abuse seems highest when these adult children live with the older person.
Social isolation. Caregivers and family members who live with an older person have the opportunity to abuse and often attempt to isolate the older person from others to prevent the abuse from being discovered.
SIGNS OF ELDER ABUSE: Signs and symptoms of elder abuse vary widely depending on the type of abuse.
Signs an older person is the victim of acts of violence may include:
- Bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, rope marks, cuts, punctures, or untreated injuries in stages of healing.
- Broken bones including the skull.
- Sprains, dislocations, or internal injuries,
- Broken eyeglasses or dentures.
- Signs of being restrained.
- Laboratory reports of overdose or underuse of medicines. Reports from the older adult of being physically hurt.
- An older person’s sudden change in behaviour.
- A caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an older person alone.
- Signs of possible sexual abuse-include bruises around the body etc. and reports from the older person of being sexually assaulted.
- Emotional or psychological abuse is possible if the older person appears emotionally upset or agitated; acts withdrawn or is non-communicative, non-responsive, or paranoid, or if he or she reports being verbally or emotionally mistreated.
- Abandonment includes the desertion of an older person at the hospital, nursing facility, shopping centre, or other public location.
Abuse also includes financial exploitation. Signs of this include sudden changes in a bank account or banking practice, such as unexplained withdrawals of large amounts of money, payments for unnecessary services, evidence of the older person’s signature being forged, and reports from the older person of financial exploitation.
HELP FOR ELDER ABUSE;
IF YOU ARE WORRIED THAT SOMEONE YOU KNOW MIGHT BE A VICTIM OF ELDER ABUSE, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT WHAT TO LOOK FOR, WHAT THE RISKS ARE, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP.
TO REPORT ELDER ABUSE OR TO GET HELP, CONTACT YOUR PROVINCIAL HEALTH AUTHORITY. EACH PROVINCE HAS RESOURCES TO HELP.