Elderly abuse takes place when anyone involved in the life of an elderly person either takes advantage of the person by stealing money, personal items or manipulating financial assets and legal documents. In many severe cases, prolonged mental abuse, name calling and demeaning of the person is sometimes an added portion of the overall abuse. Unfortunately in some situations physical abuse is initiated by a close family member or caregiver resulting in mild to irreversible physical damage that leaves the elderly person in a very crippling and even deadly situation.
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Identifying elderly abuse can often times be difficult as the elderly person feels ashamed and may not be willing to come forward regarding who their abuser is or feeling afraid to give out enough information to put the abuser in jeopardy due to repercussions. Many time elderly people are abused mentally by family members who trick them inconspicuously into thinking that they have control over them by threatening to take things away or tell lies that may get the elderly person in trouble. Watching for signs such as emotional detachment and suicidal tendencies in the elderly person may be an indication that something isn't quite right. Some elderly are physically abused not only by being hit or knocked over but by being neglected by their abuser who also may be their only caregiver. They may with hold food or leave them in soiled clothes for hours or days at a time for punishment purposes. Noticing signs of being malnourished as well as bruises or poor hygiene should be looked into and inquired about when the suspected abuser is not in the room.
The misconceptions surrounding the prevention of elderly abuse would be that the elderly victim will willingly aid in providing information about how they are being abused and this isn't always the case. Many who are abused will hide the fact that someone is taking advantage of them or even hurting them. Most times the abuser has threatened the abused by saying no one will believe them or no one can care for them except that person, leaving the person feeling even more incapacitated. Another misconception would be that many people feel that hired help or strangers can abuse the elderly when in fact this is true in some instances but in most it is typically a family member or close friend of the family who is taking advantage and mentally or physically abusing the elderly person. These types of caregivers often times have the most access to personal information such as assets, medications and finances, therefore making them more susceptible to being an abuser rather than anyone else.
If one suspects that an elderly person is being abused, do not hesitate to get authorities involved. Calling the elderly abuse hotline that is located at Department of Health and Human Services in the area in which the elderly person resides can be done twenty four hours a day seven days a week and the call is confidential so no one has to reveal their name. If nothing is done, it could result in the abuser causing extreme emotional stress on the elderly person leading to serious illness and incapacitation. Physical abuse should never be tolerated and repeated abuse could lead to death. If the situation is grave or at risk, call 911 or the sheriff's department immediately.
Preventing elderly abuse and knowing what signs to look for is the first step in the right direction. Aside of emotional detachment and signs of being under nourished, evident bruising or scarring are also indications abuse could be involved. Missing jewellery, household items and a sudden change in a will or legal document should also be investigated completely. Getting another person involved who can help and assess the situation such as a social worker or other family member is also a good way to get another perspective on the case at hand. Social workers can help get the paperwork filed so that the abused person can be safely removed from a bad situation or even allow authorities to follow through and place a warrant out for the abusers arrest. Preventing elderly abuse can be done by always assessing the physical, emotional and social needs of an elderly person upon each visitation as well as a phone call by asking, is this out of the norm for them to act or look this way , are they being themselves today or is something off key? Any questions in care or health concerns should not be put off or analysed later as it could be a matter of life or death.
The long term effects of elderly abuse is something that can be prevented if proper intervention is initiated. If left alone, an elderly person will likely begin to feel isolated and emotionally fearful. Being unable to trust anyone including other family members is also an effect from being in an abusive situation. Acting out physically at others while being verbally abusive at the same time is also a long term effect from abuse. Detaching socially from society and everyday activities as well as not getting proper nutrition and poor self esteem are also after effects of severe abuse.