a depressed woman stares out a window to highlight the mental strain elder abuse can take

Preventing Elder Abuse

June 26, 2023

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month and we’d like to take a few moments to talk about it. More specifically, June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and is there to bring to light an egregious manifestation of injustice and ageism.

According to https://worldelderabuseawareness.com, “Elder abuse is any act that causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological, or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

And the National Council on Aging (https://ncoa.org/) states that “Up to five million older Americans are abused every year, and the annual loss by victims of financial abuse is estimated to be at least $36.5 billion.

a senior woman consoles another senior woman at a park table

What is Elder Abuse and How Can We Protect Our Elders?

Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. The effects of elder abuse can range from physical and psychological harm to financial exploitation or far worse.

Being aware of the signs of elder abuse can certainly help us protect our elders from such mistreatment. Educating ourselves and others about the issue, reporting any suspected cases, and advocating for legal protections for the elderly can ensure that our elders are safe and protected from any form of physical, financial or mental harm.

Elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment due to their age and physical or mental limitations. Making ourselves aware of the signs of elder abuse and taking steps to protect our elders from harm will go a long way to help keep our loved ones safe.

a worried senior man stares at the camera with both hands covering his mouth to highlight the toll elder abuse can take

Signs of Elder Abuse & How to Report It

It is vital to report any suspected cases of elder abuse as soon as possible. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, contact your local law enforcement or adult protective services agency immediately.

Knowing the signs and how to report them can help protect our most vulnerable citizens from harm.

  • Physical signs of elder abuse may include inexplicable bruises, cuts, or broken bones.
  • Emotional signs may include fear, anxiety, and depression.
  • Financial exploitation of the elderly is also a form of elder abuse and involves taking advantage of an elderly person’s finances for personal gain, often with devastating financial consequences.

a senior woman having a panic attack highlighting it as a sign of elder abuse, alone on the couch

Why it isn’t reported more often

Like many types of abuse, elder abuse often goes unreported, and, without knowledge of the signs, it might be easy to overlook.

Here are some reasons a senior would be reluctant to report such abuse:

  • Retaliation: When an elderly patient is reliant upon the support or service of a caregiver, if the report is made, they may be afraid the abuse will worsen.
  • Cognitive: A patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia may not be fully aware the abuse is happening, or why.
  • Shame: The reasons for shame are common amongst those abused. Everything from “it should never have happened to me” to “maybe I deserve it” might be internal reasonings that would keep them from speaking up.
  • Trust: Some seniors have a lack of trust for those in authority and an abusive authority figure might just amplify that. If they can’t trust the caregiver that’s supposed to have their best interest at heart, who would they turn to?
  • Awareness: It is entirely possible, especially in the case of mental and financial abuse, that they’re not aware that this is happening. Physical abuse can be subtle too, such as being intentionally handled too roughly or mistreated in a covert manner.

There are several factors as to why this type of abuse isn’t reported often enough. The important point is to identify the abuse, report it and help put a stop to it.

a senior woman holds a call button device around her neck that can get her fast help and help prevent elder abuse

The Role of Technology in Preventing Elder Abuse & Enhancing Senior Safety

Technology can play a crucial role in preventing elder abuse and enhancing senior safety. By leveraging tech-enabled solutions, seniors can be monitored more closely and effectively, allowing family members and caretakers to identify any potential risks or issues quickly.

Automated monitoring systems, such as sensors and cameras, can be used to track seniors’ activities while also providing alerts when something is amiss. Additionally, technology can be used to connect seniors with caregivers or family members who may otherwise not have access due to distance or other factors.

By leveraging the power of technology, we can create innovative solutions that can help prevent elder abuse and enhance the safety of seniors. With technological solutions, we can help ensure seniors receive the care and protection they deserve while giving their families peace of mind.

a group of seniors discussing elder abuse in a group setting

Keeping them safe

Elder abuse can happen even in the very best care facilities. It can happen anywhere, any time. It can come from a caregiver, a family member, a spouse, one of their children, or, especially in the case of financial abuse, from a complete stranger.

This is why it’s imperative that we keep an eye out for the well-being of our aging loved ones. Watching out for bruises, changes in mood or uncharacteristic financial behavior can help you stop, or even prevent, abuse from happening.

We should be looking out for our aging loved ones as much as we do our children, as they are both in an extremely vulnerable demographic. At Adore Mom, we take this very seriously, and if you’d like to learn more about this topic, please reach out to us.