Recognizing and Reporting Elder Abuse

depressed seniorThis is a guest post by Emilee Atteberry.

Unfortunately, many elderly individuals are the victims of abuse. Elder abuse is a growing problem that many may have difficulty in recognizing. A common assumption is that such abuse only occurs in long term care facilities responsible for the care of seniors. But this is not always the case, for it may also take place in the senior’s own home or in their relative’s home. It may result from a neglectful or overwhelmed caregiver or from those looking to prey on the senior financially.

As elders age they become less able to defend themselves from abuse in all of its forms. Their vision, hearing, and thinking abilities may wane which people may take advantage of. To some degree their mental or physical ailments may make them more susceptible to abuse. In the US more than half a million cases of abuse against the elderly are reported annually. It is suspected that millions more cases go unreported.

Whatever the source, if you suspect that an elderly person is suffering from abuse it is important that you speak up. But first, it is important to recognize the signs of elder abuse. The forms elder abuse takes are listed below.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse results in pain, injury, or impairment. It may not result from direct physical assaults like hitting but may result from the inappropriate use of drugs, confinement, or restraints. Physical injuries may be explained away by thinking that the elderly person is prone to easy bruising from bumps and falls.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse results in the elderly person feeling emotional pain or distress. Verbal abuse takes various forms including humiliation and ridicule, habitual blaming, or intimidation through yelling and threats. Emotional abuse can also take other forms including shunning or ignoring the elderly person, isolating them or keeping them from their friends or attending activities, or terrorizing the person.

Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately seniors may also fall prey to sexual abuse, which not only consists of physical sexual contact, but may also take the form of being exposed to pornographic material or forcing them to watch sexual activity.

Financial Exploitation

This abuse stems from the unauthorized use of a seniors funds or property either by a caregiver or scam artist. This can range from stealing cash to misusing household goods to identity theft.

Reporting Abuse

If you are a senior being abused or exploited, tell your doctor or someone you can trust. Don’t allow feelings of guilt to prevent you from taking action. If the circumstances are serious and the victim is in a dangerous situation, don’t hesitate to call 911 or the local police.

If you suspect abuse is occurring, call the adult protective services in your area. In the US you can also call the Eldercare Locator, a federal government program where specially trained operators will refer you to an agency in your area that can help you. The Eldercare Locator number is 1-800-677-1116.

Your number one priority is to stop the abuse in whatever form it is taking. If the abuse is serious enough you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney that has experience in handling these cases.

Author Bio: Emilee Atteberry is in her last year of law school and writes on a variety of law topics. She currently writes for

Photo Credit:
depressed senior image courtesy of stockimages from

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