Beyond the Bruises – 5 Symptoms of Elder Abuse and Why We All Need to Be Alert for The Elderly

 Elder Abuse is very common. You have a 1 in 3 change of being abuse as a Senior Citizen; be aware of the other types of elder abuse that are very commonly reported to the hot lines in your state. 

  1. 1.       Not visiting or communication with your elder parent.  Neglecting an elderly parent is considered a form of elder abuse.  There are countless stories of children abandoning their parents as they age.  “It’s just too much bother.”  “What have they done for me?”  “She’s just a crazy old woman.”  “I have too much on my plate; Dad will call if he needs me.”  If any of these are true for you, please look in the mirror.  Our elder parents have very difficult time asking for help.  When we age, it becomes an affront to our self-esteem to admit we need help.  Even if it’s been years, start today to rekindle with your elder parent.
  2. 2.       “You’ve got to let me handle your money, mom.”  Coercion of others can be considered elder abuse.  Most seniors are able to handle their own affairs.  When help is needed an appointed person is often set up to help with our parents affairs.  The most common tool is a Durable Power of AttorneyIf you notice an elder friend or neighbor complain about their children controlling the money or forcing them to manage the money, it may be time for intervention.
  3. 3.       “I fell down the stairs.”  Physical abuse is most often denied by the elder.  We do not want to admit that our children will abuse us.  When you notice multiple injuries or frequent emergency room admissions for falls, bruises and broken bones be aware of potential abuse.  There are reports daily to the adult abuse hotlines for physical abuse of elders.  Often these unsuspecting parent/victims’ are themselves suffering from depilating diseases like Alzheimer’s and crippling arthritis.  They need your eyes and ears to help protect them from their perpetrators.
  4. 4.       “My son needed a new couch and washing machine.”  Stealing from elders is a form abuse.  When things go missing, not just things but money, be aware that this is taking advantage of an elder.  We do not usually give away needed money and furniture to relatives when we are elderly.  It is not the proverbial sales man or street thug that steels from the elderly; it is usually a relative or close friend.  Be watchful of “things going missing.”
  5. 5.       “You need to be locked up; you are a crazy old man.”  Verbal abuse has many forms.  We all know that screaming and yelling are not appropriate.  There are more subtle ways to verbally abuse the elderly.  Isolation and avoidance are also considered forms of verbal abuse.  Not speaking to an elder for long periods isolates them.  If you see someone cower at the sight or mention of another person, suspect a form of verbal abuse or emotional abuse.

Reporting Elder abuse is simple. Call the elder abuse hotline in your state.  A social worker will visit the elderly and assess the situation.  If we do not report the abuse the situation may become worse.  Many elderly are left alone to die without the needed help from their family.  The community organizations available in your state can help the elderly negotiate the family dynamics.  Be alert for yourself, your neighbors, friends and family.  We all disserve a life of dignity.   

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