Elder Abuse

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, the perfect time to shed light on a problem that seems to be left in the dark. Elder Abuse is becoming more of a pressing issue as one out of ten seniors in America is subjected to financial, physical, or emotional abuse. It is not as widely known as domestic or child abuse, but it is an occurrence that is becoming more frequent in our community. It is up to us to make a change.

To understand the characteristics of elder abuse, we must break down the demographics of the parties involved. 67.3% of abuse victims are female, 32.7% are male, 66.4% are Caucasian, 18.7% are African American, and 10.4% are Hispanic. Perpetrators tend to be adult children of the elderly, spouses, caregivers, and institutions providing care. Once we categorize the parties involved, the next step is to classify the type of abuse. Characteristics of elder abuse fall into five categories: physical, emotional, financial exploitation, neglect, and sexual. Physical abuse is identified by bruising, inflicting any type of pain on the senior, slapping, or restraining. Emotional abuse is mental pain, anguish, verbal/nonverbal abuse, humiliating/intimidating/threatening the senior. Financial exploitation is any financial misuse, illegal taking or concealing of funds, property, and/or assets to benefit one’s self. Neglect is a guardian or caregiver’s failure to provide for food, shelter, and healthcare protection. Sexual is any non-consensual contact.

All forms of elder abuse are serious and should not be taken lightly. Major signs of abuse are bruises, pressure marks, abrasions, burns or broken bones, depression, sudden withdrawal from normal activities, changes in alertness, sudden and unexplained financial changes, bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, unusual weight loss, observed belittling, threats, the usage of power negatively by the care giver, and finally strained or tense relationships and frequent arguments. If any of those signs of abuse are detected, many services are available to assist, such as Adult Protective Services, the Adult Protection Branch (Cabinet for health and family services), and the Adult Abuse Hot Line 1-800-752-6200 (Toll Free).

The Hopkins County Attorney’s office will be having a presentation on Guardianship and Elder Abuse issues at the Country Cupboard on June 24th, 2014 at 11:30 a.m.

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