Seniors already have a lot to face. As they age, they have to deal with limitations, financial issues related to the supplementing of their income during their retirement years, medical issues that can limit mobility and force them to take various medications, and so many more problems that have the ability to surface.
They should never have to deal with abuse.
June 15 is recognized as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day designated to inform and educate people about the damaging forms of abuse perpetuated against the senior population and how these forms can be recognized for the illegal and immoral acts that they are.
Understanding elder abuse
Elder abuse is not a new concept. Approximately, one in 10 Americans of ages 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging.
Countless seniors can attest to their needs not being met by a caregiver or a caregiver treating them emotionally or physically poorly. The senior may find themselves abandoned, unable to care for themselves.
These are among the forms of abuse are recognized by the National Institute on Aging and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Other organizations, like the National Council on Aging, also include willful deprivation, financial exploitation, and confinement, in their classification of elder abuse. These organizations work to fight elder abuse and help others recognize the signs of it.
The signs of elder abuse or neglect include acting violent or agitated, losing weight for no reason, seeming confused or depressed, having trouble sleeping, displaying signs of trauma, having unexplained bruises, scars, or burns, looking messy, developing bed sores, or other preventable conditions, and becoming withdrawn, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Perpetuators of elder abuse
Many also have examined the causes of elderly abuse, as it pertains to the stress of the caregivers. A study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that the abuse of the elderly is associated with personality problems of the caregiver, rather than the burden or stress placed on those caring for dependent and infirm elderly individuals.
The perpetrators of elderly abuse often are the spouses or adult children of the victim. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, they also are more likely to be male, more likely to have mental or physical health problems, more likely to have a history of trouble with the police, more likely to have a history of past or current substance abuse, more likely to be socially isolated, more likely to be experiencing major stress, and more likely to be employed or have financial problems.
These perpetrators of elder abuse more often target older women over older men, and among the abuse victims, younger aged seniors have been associated with a greater risk of elder abuse, due to the proximity to family members who can perpetuate the abuse.
Identify abuse and protecting the elderly
For those interacting with seniors on a regular basis, it can be important to be there for them, identifying the abuse that the senior may not wish to speak of. Many seniors feel a sense of embarrassment, perceiving that they are somehow responsible for their abuse, according to Psychology Today. They may fear that help is not available for them, or that they may be retaliated against if they speak up. They may fear of being placed in a nursing home, or simply believing that this is what has always happened to people at this age.
While there is no standard way of identifying whether or not a senior has faced abuse, they need to be aware that it is never their fault. They are not to blame for the situation, and they need to be made to feel that they are in a safe and judgment-free place, where they can speak to the abuse that they have faced without the fear of retaliation.
It is important for those that have a parent or a loved one in need of senior or long-term care to properly research the home, community, or facility, in order to make sure that they do not abuse their elderly residents.
The wishes of the senior should be known and settled by the time they enter the facility. In order to accomplish that, it is vital that the loved one of the senior or the senior his or herself contact an elder law firm, like Cordell Planning Partners, who can properly navigate the ins and outs of estate planning, trusts, wills, long-term care, probate, and so many more relevant topics that the senior will be dealing with.