What is elderly abuse?
Elder abuse refers to the intentional abuse of an elderly person. This kind of abuse can cause serious physical, emotional, mental or financial harm to the elderly person or to the abused. This mistreatment can and is often commited by someone with whom the older person has a direct relationship with such as a partner, family member, friend or carer. The abuse itself can manifest in a variety of different ways including but not limited to physical, social, financial, psychological, sexual or emotional mistreatment and neglect.
Equally, the elderly can be some of the most vulnerable people in our society and it is because of this vulnerability that, as friends, relatives and carers, we should be sensitive enough to ensure we engage and interact with such individuals in a civil and empathetic way. In this way, open, honest lines of communication regarding treatment and care remain the first line of defence against abuse and mistreatment. Often however, abuse and neglect may be concealed and hidden, even in plain sight, and it is for this reason that vigilance must be maintained in the provision of care at all times. All members of the community have a responsibility to those who are vulnerable to speak out against mistreatment and abuse when it is found and to shine a light in the dark places where abuse against the elderly occurs.
Check For Any Signs Of Injury
If an elderly person is being physically abused, experiences may include hitting, beating, pushing, shaking, slapping, kicking, punching, and burning. If this is identified, it is imperative that it is reported directly to authorities. Always check if there is visible bruising or other injuries.
Some Things To Remember
Always check the medication and dosage level
Always double check if the patient is taking the correct medication and proper dosage. Physical abuse of elders can also occur through improper dosage of medication or over medicating.
Pay attention to any genital infections or issues
Sexual abuse of elders can and does happen, leaving the elder physically and emotionally scarred. In this case you can ask and let them feel that you can be trusted and you can be a great help. Notice if the person complains of genital irritation or develops a genital infection.
Note if the person has difficulty walking or sitting
Maybe the person is suddenly unwilling to get out of bed or has difficulty walking around, when previously she was fine and mobile. This immobility may be a sign that she has experienced sexual abuse, leaving her body bruised or injured, especially in the pelvis area.
Note if the person is depressed
Note if she always look depressed. Sometimes the elderly person cannot verbally express their experience of abuse and may instead withdraw from others out of fear or anxiety. She may also appear depressed and refuse to leave her room or go outside to socialize with others.
Pay attention to any changes in the person’s routine
This could be a refusal to go for daily walks, a change in appetite, or turning down visits and contact with others.
Check for signs of anxiety, agitation, or fear around others
Note if the person appears frightened around certain individuals, with wide eyes, nervous ticks, or a lack of eye contact. These signs could indicate that the person is fearful around someone due to abuse
If you are worried about your elderly loved one, there are ways to help prevent elder abuse.
What can a caregiver or family member do if they suspect elder abuse?
Talk and confront the elderly abuse
Talk to them nicely and be friendly for they need a person that can be trusted and can comfort them.
If you suspect elder abuse to your family or to your patient that you generally concerned about changes in the behavior or personality you should speak with them. Some might feel fear or embarrassed to caregiver but there are some also are looking for a support and comfort or to speak to about what is happening to them.
Call the police / Call for help
If you suspect elderly abuse seek out help from local authorities and other appropriate persons that can help. Describe in detail what you have seen and prepare to answer questions.
Call the elder abuse hotline or Home care
If you suspect that an elderly person is being abused, consider calling an elder abuse hotline and reporting the abuse anonymously.
Communicate with the family of the elderly abuse
If you have witnessed abuse, the family can be contacted as a first port of call to inform them what had happen. This will allow the family to decide how to handle the situation of the abuse. Talk to them in detail so they feel supported and enabled to protect their elderly family member moving forward and do some actions.
Here are some videos for an elderly abuse person :