TAMPA – As medicine advances and our understanding of how to limit risk factors for longevity begins to increase, there are more people living longer than ever before. Although this is an excellent thing overall, there are some drawbacks for the elderly in America. Statistics show that elderly abuse is on the rise. Elderly assisted living facilities abuse, is comprised of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, neglect (both self-inflicted and through caregivers), financial exploitation, and institutional care abuse.
Abuse is typically not related to any factors of the individual’s socio-economic class; it is found equally among almost all elderly populations. The biggest problem with tackling elderly abuse is that it is often hidden and hard to recognize, especially when there are mental deficits of the elderly person or limited resources they have for speaking out. In nursing homes, the fear of reprisal is a very strong motivator for abuse victims to stay quiet.
Due to people living longer, an aging population’s resources are diminished, and many are finding themselves at the mercy of the state or state agencies for care. If they don’t have the capacity to make decisions for themselves, others are given the power to. Those people left in charge don’t always have their best interests at heart.
So what are the ways that you can combat elderly abuse in your community or for your loved ones? Prevention involves you reviewing your loved one’s care on a continual basis and looking for warning signs that might not be as apparent as you would hope. Although the data is scattered about elderly abuse, with more people entering nursing homes and assisted living communities and having fewer resources, there are fewer people to care for the masses — which is a recipe for disaster.
If you have a loved one who is being cared for by someone other than yourself, it is important to look for signs of abuse.
Unusual or frequent unexplained injuries
Bruises, abrasions, burns, pressure marks or broken bones that can’t be explained are a huge warning sign. It is not uncommon for elderly people to be unsteady and succumb to frequent accidents, but if they can’t explain their bruises, or they haven’t been explained to you, that is a huge red flag.
Depression or withdrawal from their regular activities
If you notice that your loved one is suddenly uninterested in the things that they used to love or that they have started to withdraw from the community around them, that is often a sign of abuse. Also, if they have a sudden change in their awareness or they appear to be unenthusiastic about anything, that might be a sign of emotional abuse.
A sudden change in their financial situation
If you notice money disappearing from their home or accounts without any explanation, that is a sign that someone might be stealing from them. Also, make sure to safeguard their valuables, especially those that they might not even remember. It is not unusual for valuables to disappear from a home without anyone noticing.
Poor hygiene, bed sores, weight loss, or other medical needs that go unattended
For those elderly individuals who have lost the ability to care for themselves and their daily needs, it becomes more critical to keep a watchful eye out to ensure that their needs are being met. If you notice that they have bed sores, are losing weight, or that they aren’t taking their medication as prescribed, that is a red flag that their needs are not being met and that someone is not taking reasonable care with them.
Their medication keeps disappearing
Often, the person who perpetrated the abuse against an elderly person is dependent on either drugs or alcohol, which makes someone who has medication a target. If you notice that their prescription bottle is empty more often than usual, then make sure to alert whoever is supposed to be in charge of their care.
The elderly can fall prey to abuse from anyone in their lives. Statistics show that as many as two-thirds of those who are being abused are being abused by family members left to care for them. The increase in the elderly population has led to an increase in elderly abuse. It is important to watch for signs of abuse for your elderly loved one, whether they are being cared for in an institution or in someone’s home.