Abuse in Elderly

According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, the broad definition of elder abuse is “any knowledge, intentional or negligent act by a physician or any other person who causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older person” and includes “Physical, sexual and emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect and self-abandonment, and abandonment.” Abusers may be spouses and former spouses, couples, adult children, extended family, and in some cases, caregivers not family.

Maltreatment is also known as “domestic violence later in life,” and is similar to all intimate partner violence, in which a person uses hurtful, repeated and intentional behavior to maintain power and control over their partner. In this case, older victims and abusers generally fall into three basic categories:

A new relationship, in which the victim discovers the new partner is abusive

“Late onset of domestic violence,” in which a long-term marriage becomes unexpectedly abusive – although it may have been emotional abuse or a tense relationship that was aggravated when a partner

“Aged domestic violence,” in which violence and abuse begins early in marriage and lasts for decades

Various behaviors in elder abuse include:

Physical Abuse Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical pain or injury

Emotional Abuse   Inflict mental or emotional distress or anguish of an older person through verbal or nonverbal acts

Sexual Abuse without consent of sexual contact of any type

Financial or material exploitation   Illegal capture, misuse or concealment of funds, assets or assets of a vulnerable elderly person

Neglect   Refusal or non-compliance by those responsible for providing food, shelter, health care or the protection of a vulnerable elderly person

Abandonment   The abandonment of an elderly person vulnerable by any person who has assumed responsibility for the care and custody of that person

 Some warning signs of elder abuse include:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, bone fractures, abrasions, burns
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities and unusual depression
  • Sudden changes in financial position
  • Unusual weight loss, poor hygiene, pressure ulcers, unmet medical needs
  • Strained or tense relationships or frequent discussions between caregiver and senior
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