Elder Abuse: Awareness & Prevention

Why is senior abuse such a dangerous issue? We should also ask why senior abuse is a complicated issue. Who tends to abuse elders? What is the significance of this problem?
Let’s discuss abuse before moving on to the article. Generally, abuse can happen to everyone in each gender or age group. But this issue is more severe for the elderly as they could face serious medical problems. Sometimes they face abuse from their own children or feel abandoned by them.

What Are the Types of Abuse?

For seniors, there are two main types of abuse, emotional and physical:

1. Physical Abuse

Seniors experience physical abuse of many types; for example, they can face violent reactions from their nurses or children. Unfortunately, victims are sometimes unable to recognize physical abuse because they do not feel comfortable talking about it or because they feel ashamed of it. In recent years many reports have been published about this issue; for example, a 90-year-old woman in New York was struck by her nurse at home. Luckily, that nurse was arrested, but it may be hard to identify the problem in some cases.
Taking care of seniors is a massive responsibility for children, families, and friends. In order to arrange in-home care, families and friends need to contact approved organizations.

2. Emotional Abuse

Have you ever heard of seniors isolated in their homes due to emotional issues? It can happen in many ways. For example, children can be disrespectful to their elderly parents. Also, the elderly may be abused by nurses or even by their wives or husbands. Other examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Kids or nurses threaten seniors to leave them alone or cut their income.
  • Calling down seniors because of some physical problems.
  • Banish seniors from the family.
  • Do not let them see their friends or grandchildren.
  • Use negative words about their personalities.

These are some emotional abuses that can happen to seniors and lead to loneliness and isolation. 

Check out socializing and using technology to avoid loneliness.

3. Neglecting the Seniors

One of the most common mistakes children make when it comes to elderly parents is to ignore them. In some cases, financial intents encourage children to neglect their parents in care homes or leave them on the streets in the worst cases. Older people feel useless in such a scenario. It will reduce their life quality, and they will face mental issues and common mental disorders. Please notice that sometimes staying in the care houses is not a wrong choice for seniors if they have many serious physical problems. However, it is important to treat them right, and children should not leave them unattended. 

4. Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a disturbing issue that seniors can face. The victims may be part of the sexual activities or be forced to watch them. This is an illegal act that can happen in the hands of nurses or children.

The last kind of senior abuse we can discuss is financial abuse. Many seniors with good incomes do not have enough control over their assets due to mental health issues. In these cases, children or caregivers can steal their money. Children can also sign a contract with their parents and take their retirement salary and life insurance without permission.

Who More Face with Abuse?

Recent socialist reports indicate that women are at the core of abuse issues. But men have the same problems too. Older people with mental issues, Alzheimer’s or depression, can be an easy target for abuse. For instance, seniors who cannot do their tasks, such as taking a shower or wearing clothes, are typically abused.

Also, children must be cautious when it comes to seniors’ health. People may try to earn money through more straightforward methods in an economic downturn, such as scamming the elderly. For example, they can impersonate a doctor and steal from the elderly by abusing their medical records. On the other hand, some irresponsible perpetrators, with full knowledge of the individual’s condition, engage in fraud and abuse of the elderly.

In these cases, you can rely on programs and services for seniors in Canada, such as old age security services.

Signs of Senior Abuse

There are cases when seniors will not discuss a nurse’s problems for fear of being ridiculed or humiliated. Children should pay more attention to their parents and watch for signs of elder abuse, something we will discuss below:

Physical Abuse

  • You can see physical damage on their skins or their body.
  • Some evidence like broken bones.
  • In some cases, you can see some rope marks on their skin.

Emotional Signs

  • They are constantly afraid.
  • They become angry at every turn.
  • Their weight drops significantly.
  • They don’t talk anymore.

Sexual Abuse Signs

You may see some signs, for example, bloody clothes, blood in their piss, or some problems in moving in this condition. Due to shame, elders may not try to speak about it. But you can get help from psychotherapists to solve this problem.

Facts About Senior Abuse

All of the information presented here is based on an article published on the World Health Organization website.

  • Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older have experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.
  • Rates of senior abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.
  • Senior abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.
  • Senior abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.
  • The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.

What Should We Do to Help Seniors?

Various groups and organizations have emerged to reduce and prevent unfortunate events. One area currently undergoing a lot of effort is the health of the elderly. It is also these organizations’ responsibility to report the abuse of the elderly. Of course, children and those around seniors also play a significant role in reducing these problems. Counsellors and psychologists can also improve seniors’ safety at home and prevent abuse.

Source NIA Help guide Nursing Home
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3 years ago

As a society, we don’t talk enough about this subject. Abuse is abuse, but we tend to categorize it and care about some forms of it more than the other forms. It’s unacceptable to focus on treating and healing certain wounds and let other wounds remain unnoticed and untreated. Plus, it is not fair nor logical to care about abuse as a concept and then ignore states of it merely due to seniority. All Human beings should be taken care of, regardless of their age or other factors.

Reply to  Emma
2 years ago

I can’t agree more! It feels like nobody cares if a man or an older adult is abused. It’s funny that some categories in abuse drag more attention than others.

3 years ago

Abuse is a general word! Sometimes many of us do not know much about our rights! That’s why we let others abuse us. We should be aware of our and others’ rights to protect ourselves! I suggest the local authorities hold classes for seniors to make them aware of their rights! I believe that many cases of abuse occur when awareness does not exist. I have read a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that says: The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins. We should respect the right of others!

Reply to  Nonny
2 years ago

Knowledge is power so yes, as you said the best way to tackle this issue is to inform and educate people about their rights and how they should defend themselves against such abuses. Local communities, the media and family and friends can all play a pivotal role in this respect.

2 years ago

It’s so sad! I’m 42, but I still remember my childhood when one of our neighbours was subjected to physical abuse by her daughter! we moved from that neighbourhood, but I still think of Samantha and what might have happened to her. Every day her daughter used to beat her because Samantha couldn’t eat without making noise. She couldn’t do anything because she needed her daughter. She was so cruel that even we didn’t dare to face her. I don’t understand these kinds of people. I mean, how can they be so cruel? 

2 years ago

Several factors may decrease the risk of performing or experiencing elder abuse. To prevent it, I think, we must understand and address the factors that put them at risk.
Here is what I believe to be helpful:
We need to Listen to older adults and their caregivers to recognize their challenges and provide support.
Learn how the signs of elder abuse vary from the normal ageing process.
Support over-burdened caregivers: such as help from friends, family, or local relief care groups.
Encourage the caregivers or older adults having problems with drug or alcohol abuse in getting help.

2 years ago

There isn’t much room here to be careless; I think it’s our responsibility to understand and address the factors that put seniors at risk. 
All I know is that abusers tend to target lonely people who don’t have a lot of close friends or family dropping by to check on them on a regular basis. They tend to be consummate manipulators and deliberately encourage their targets to trust primarily or solely in them. 
We need to listen to seniors and be vigilant. No one wants to admit they are being abused until they cannot stand it anymore.

Last edited 2 years ago by Emma
2 years ago

When I was a kid, my neighbour was this old lady who had to take care of her old and had a spinal cord injury and couldn’t move at all. They were living in this three-floored house. After her husband died, their sons moved into her residence and made her life hell. I believe she was in her 90s and still cared about her sons, yet they only abused her. They manipulated her into giving them the money she needed for her essential needs. They yelled at her and called her nasty words. Her oldest son even hit her from time to time. She was so fragile she could barely even move. She died a few years after they moved in, and a few months later, we moved out of that neighbourhood. All I want to say is, senior abuse is a real problem, and it’s most dangerous when it comes from those who are supposed to be protecting you.

Daryl. G
Daryl. G
2 years ago

Elder abuse is one of the most horrendous acts because it hurts some of society’s most vulnerable members. It can be difficult for anyone involved, which is one of the reasons why some cases go unnoticed. Suppose the abuse gets confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt. In that case, the punishment should be a prison sentence followed by a probationary period of attending to the hygiene needs of the elderly at a rate of one week for every proven day of abuse, up to a maximum of three years.

2 years ago

 Omg! I’m not lying when I tell you this was one of the most shocking articles I’ve ever read! I literally had no idea that senior abuse even existed. That makes me wonder how often we ignore our parents or grandparents and do not take them seriously. By that, we somehow emotionally abused them. Thinking about this fact literally blew my mind. I try to do my best and pay more attention to older adults, and don’t behave in a way that might offend them from now on.

Reply to  Natalie
2 years ago

I agree with you. I have been reading these comments with tears. It is challenging to help your loved ones because seniors may be in denial and refuse help as they are protective of their abuser. It usually is easier to be in denial. For most people is psychological rather than physical abuse. So everyone is responsible for paying attention to the signs and treating seniors with respect.

2 years ago

Well, I feel it’s quite the other way around!!
It’s them abusing the young, actually !
If they treated their kids as equals, not as property, things would have been better…
Parents judge their children and treat them as an alien life form. 
They treat their house pets better than they do the kids, and when they get older, they are surprised why their children throw them in nursing homes and choose not to deal with them…
Guess what? That’s a learned behaviour carved on the kid’s mind from the beginning. 
I think kids are conscious enough to understand these things….