Some of society’s most precious and vulnerable, the elder population, may find themselves harmed by those charged with their care. Elders who suffer physical, emotional, sexual, financial or other types of abuse or neglect may experience ranging effects, including worsened health conditions and death.
While loved ones may easily spot physical signs of mistreatment, such as bruises or poor hygiene, they may not as easily notice the emotional effects.
What makes elders vulnerable to abuse?
According to the National Council on Aging, several factors may contribute to the vulnerability of elders to abuse. Those who suffer from mental impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, have a particularly high risk of suffering mistreatment. Studies show that close to half of the elders included who suffer from dementia also experienced some type of abuse or neglect. Social isolation, or having little contact with anyone other than their caregivers, may also increase older adults’ risk of suffering abuse.
What are the nonphysical signs of elder abuse?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, older adults who suffer abuse may display a range of effects. Other than signs of physical injury, these may include the following:
- Unusual agitated or violent behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
- Withdrawal from once-enjoyed activities
- Rocking back and forth or displaying other signs of trauma
Unfortunately, shame and fear of escalating the mistreatment often keep older adults from reporting abuse or neglect. Watching for the signs and understanding what steps to take if they have concerns that a loved one has suffered abuse may help people protect their elder family members.