Abuse of the elderly is a heinous yet frequently unreported form of mistreatment. Persons over the age of 60 may experience various forms of mistreatment and oftentimes the signs are difficult to spot. As the loved one of an elderly person, you can help to watch for the less-obvious signs of elder abuse or neglect.
It's difficult to report accurate rates of elder abuse and neglect because the mistreatment frequently goes unreported. Reasons why can vary, but tend to be due to feelings of isolation and powerlessness, fear of reporting the mistreatment and psychological or physical impairments that impede the victim's ability to recall and report the abuse.
Attentive loved ones can make up for these deterrents through careful and comprehensive awareness of the person's behavior and overall health. To start, it's important to know what to look for.
Types of mistreatment
Healthcare and elder advocates categorize abuse in a few ways to encompass all forms of mistreatment. Types of abuse can vary and some happen more frequently than others. Here are the main categories of mistreatment inflicted upon persons over age 60:
- Financial Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
Each form of mistreatment presents its own set of symptoms and signs. Perhaps the most readily-noticeable form is physical abuse as this commonly leaves visible indications of mistreatment. Beyond just what the eye can see, there are many other signs of mistreatment to watch for.
Less obvious signs of mistreatment
Whether an elderly loved one lives in assisted care or independently in their home, they may end up in treacherous and dangerous situations. For those in the home, common forms of mistreatment include neglect, abandonment and financial exploitation. These can come from persons involved in their care or from complete strangers.
It's important to act as a trusted, compassionate confidant for elderly loved ones. Keep an open dialogue and assure them they can tell you about mistreatment or a lack of care when it happens. Additionally, watch for indications of treatment they're afraid or otherwise unable to disclose.
Unexplained weight loss, sleep troubles, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, agitation around certain people and overall mood changes can indicate mistreatment. Some of these changes may come with aging and an overall decline in health, but they may also indicate abuse or neglect.
Talk to your loved ones and keep in mind the potential signs of elder abuse and neglect. Their health and wellbeing is a top priority for loved ones to consider and your attentiveness can make all the difference in their later years.