As people age and become older, they become incapable of caring for themselves and depend on others for help – often a caregiver, a family member, or any eldercare institution. But humans are selfish by nature, so relying solely on others puts elders at risk of abuse by the same people they trusted with their care.
Most of the time, the abuse and neglect occur at the hands of someone they trust. Studies have suggested that familial tensions (both financial and psychological) are a leading contributor toward elder abuse. Abuse in any form has serious health consequences for the victim, and for someone over the age of 60, the effects can be debilitating. Elder abuse is a serious public health concern that deserves undivided attention.
The thing about elder abuse is that it is often under-reported, resulting in most abusers going unpunished and leading free lives. Older people facing abuse may feel afraid or embarrassed to talk about it, making them reluctant to seek help. A lack of a nationwide reporting system and different definitions of elder abuse make it difficult to identify the actual scope of the issue.
Elder abuse can appear in various ways; as a result, it can be tough to detect. However, if you know what signs to look for, you can help keep your friends and loved ones safe. Physical injuries, unfavorable behavioral changes, or inexplicable financial transactions are common indicators of elder abuse. If you suspect someone you care about might be facing abuse, then contacting a nursing home law firm can assist your loved one in taking legal action against their abuser.
In this article, we have put together a guide for recognizing the signs of elder abuse and the steps for preventing it – continue reading to learn more.
Recognizing the signs of elder abuse
Stopping elder abuse is only possible after learning to recognize the signs. Physical or sexual abuse, financial exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats), or desertion are all examples of elder abuse. Subsequently, it also includes the notion of neglect.
Neglect is considered the most prevalent type of abuse with tremendously adverse effects. It’s disturbing to think that a lack of effort can be detrimental to someone’s mental health – enough to leave them vulnerable. Unusual, odd, and dramatic changes in an older loved one’s mental, physical, or financial well-being are the most common indicators of elder abuse. The specific indications of elder abuse differ based on the type of elder abuse impacting the victim.
Warning signs of elder abuse can include:
- Physical injuries include abrasions, cuts, fractures, malnutrition and poor hygiene.
- Deteriorating mental health and displaying behavioral indicators of skepticism, anxiety, and depression
- Getting withdrawn from family and friends
- Inexplicable money transactions or monetary losses
To prevent elder abuse, family members should keep an eye open to look out for elderly loved ones in the care of others. Relatives should also notify local authorities as soon as they notice any indicators of elder abuse occurring.
Steps for preventing elder abuse
Elder abuse, at its core, is the caretaker’s inability to look after and care for the older person’s needs, whether it happens at home or an assisted living facility. As a result, an essential factor in preventing abuse is carefully hiring the best caretakers and supporting them whenever needed. Prevention of elder abuse also entails that the caretaker fulfills all of the needs of older adults and that the older adult feels physical, socially, and mentally content at all times.
It is essential to understand the risk factors that enhance the likelihood of your loved ones encountering abuse to prevent it from occurring ultimately. The first step in preventing elder abuse is considering the red flags listed below when hiring a caregiver or nursing home facility.
Caregiver Risk Factors
The psychological condition and living circumstances of a caretaker influence the possibility of abusing the elder. Caring for an older adult is a stressful and demanding job that no one should undertake without proper planning and mental support. A caregiver is more likely to commit elder abuse if:
- They are financially and emotionally reliant on the elder
- The elder they are serving suffers from physical or mental health issues
- They don’t have complete access to resources for eldercare
- They have unfavorable views on aging and the elderly
- They lack proper coping skills
- They suffer from mental illness
- They can’t provide adequate caregiving services
- They were abused in their childhood
If a caregiver is already under stress, taking on caregiving obligations may result in violent outbursts, economic abuse, neglect, and other types of abuse.
Institutional Risk Factors
Many assisted living facilities subject adults in their care to various risk factors—understaffing and overworking their staff results in substandard care, fatigue, and exhaustion.
- Adults living at nursing homes are more likely to encounter abuse if their facility:
- Sloppy recruitment – failing to conduct a background check on potential employees.
- Low employee retention rates.
- Stress-inducing work environment.
- Employees that are disrespectful and rude towards the residents in their care
Preventing elder abuse is not always possible. However, family members can take actions to decrease the likelihood of an older person’s exposure to abuse, regardless of whether your loved one stays at home or a nursing facility. Small measures like promoting community involvement, keeping them active, supporting primary caregivers, and checking in regularly help protect them in the long run.
Never disregard any potential signs of elder abuse, as it can have grave mental and physical consequences for the victim. Victims can suffer injuries that can cause lasting disabilities, worsening existing health issues. Taking note of the warning signs of the abuse and the worsening health of an older loved one could help free them from their misery and expose the abuse they have been facing all along. Your aging parents, grandparents, and other older people you might know don’t deserve this torment. If you sense your loved one might be facing abuse, report it and help them pursue justice and compensation.