Elder Abuse is an increasing problem among women and men of all backgrounds and races. There is limited research on why elder abuse occurs or how to prevent it. Conditions likely to be associated with elder abuse include Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, and isolation from the family. The majority of older persons are abused by family members, including spouses, according to data reported in the 2000 State Adult Protective Services Survey, of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA).
Elder abuse sometimes also occurs in nursing homes, especially if a client has infrequent visitors. Laws to protect elders vary from state-to-state from abuse. Unannounced or unexpected visits are especially helpful to decrease the probability of a loved one experiencing abuse. They also allow a person to see what conditions are like at different times of the day.
Whether an elderly person resides at home or in an institution any suspected case should be reported to the local police department, the health department or agencies identified by the Eldercare Locator helpline at 1-800-677-1116.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is harm or serious risk of harm to an elder individual as a result of carelessness, negligence or bad intentions, done by a caregiver or another person. Abuse may be defined in the following ways:
Physical Abuse – physical pain or injury, inflicted on an elderly individual, or depriving him or her of a basic need.
Neglect – failure or refusal to provide adequate food, shelter, health care and/or protection for a vulnerable elder.
Psychological and Verbal Abuse – causing emotional pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts.
Elder Sexual Abuse – forced or non-consensual sexual activity with an elderly individual.
Exploitation – misuse, hiding or illegally taking money, property or other assets.
Abandonment – when the person responsible for an elderly person deserts the person (legally or through informal arrangement) they have been caring for.
Other Sources of Information
Eldercare Locator 1-800-677-1116 www.eldercare.gov
National Center on Elder Abuse 202-898-2586 www.elderabusecenter.org
Both of the above resources can be reached in one click from our Relevant Resources Table.