According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)
“Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited.
“Elder abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by 1 out of every 10 people, ages 60 and older, who live at home. This statistic is likely underestimated because many victims are unable or afraid to disclose or report the violence.”
How to spot elder abuse and what to do about it.
When thinking about domestic violence, the image of a young family often comes to mind. The truth is, abuse can happen at any age and in any living situation.
Just like other kinds of abuse, elder abuse may take many different forms:
- Physical: Inflicting pain or injury through such actions as slapping, hitting, bruising, or restraining. Physical abuse can also be inflicted through medication tampering — giving too much or withholding medication.
- Sexual: Any nonconsensual sexual contact, whether comprehended or not.
- Emotional: Inflicting mental anguish or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts, such as threatening, intimidating, or humiliating.
- Confinement: restraining or isolating a person for other than medical reasons
- Neglect: Failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, or protection.
- Financial Exploitation: Illegal use, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, assets, or benefits for another person’s gain.
- Abandonment: Desertion of a vulnerable adult.
- Self-neglect: Behaviors of an elder that threatens their safety and health.
Elder abuse frequently goes unreported, so it’s difficult to know how prevalent this is. The World Health Organization says anywhere between 1% and 10% of senior adults are affected.
According to the National Council for Aging Care, only 1 in 24 cases are actually reported.
Because not all senior adults are able to communicate incidents of abuse, it’s important that those close to them watch for warning signs.
Following are five warning signs of elder abuse from the Administration for Community Living:
- Unexplained bruises, marks, broken bones, or abrasions that could be indicative of physical abuse; any bruises or injuries to the breasts or genitalia
- Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, sudden change in alertness, unusual depression
- Sudden and unexplained changes in financial situation
- Poor hygiene, bedsores, unusual weight loss, or unattended medical needs
- Belittling, threats, or frequent arguments between patient and caregiver
If you suspect an elderly loved one is being abused, report it to authorities. If the threat is immediate, call 911.
Resources in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties:
Harbor House 24-Hour Hotline: 815-932-5800
Catholic Charities in Kankakee at 815-933-7791
Adult Protective Services (all of Illinois) 1-866-800-1409, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY)
Information from DomesticShelters.org website.