An older adult can be damaged in a variety of ways including physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, and sexually. Seniors across the country must continue to be aware of and protected against these issues due to the growing senior population.
Using this definitive guide to Elder Abuse, you can gain a deeper understanding of elder abuse and the people that are impacted. Additionally, it includes tips on recognizing and combating elder abuse, together with ways loved ones can do to help prevent or combat it.
What Is Elder Abuse?
- Various forms of elder abuse are possible.
- A senior is harmed when they receive physical, verbal, or mental abuse, as well as financial or sexual exploitation.
- Caregiver neglect is also a form of abusive behavior, whether intentional or unintentional.
- Thousands of reports of elder abuse reach authorities in the U.S. every year, but millions of cases go unreported.
- Getting older leaves older adults more vulnerable to physical frailty, bullying, and attack.
- Those who live with them can find them challenging companions if they have mental or physical ailments.
- Unscrupulous people can take advantage of them because they can’t hear or see as well as they used to, or think as clearly.
- Seniors who are abused tend to live in households where they are abused by their adult children, grandchildren, spouses, or partners.
- Long-term care facilities are also places where elder abuse occurs.
- In the event that an elderly person is being neglected or overwhelmed by a caregiver, or being exploited financially, it’s crucial to speak up.
- A safe, dignified, and respectful life is a human right.
- Understanding the warning signs, understanding the risk factors, and learning how to avoid and report elder abuse can help you prevent and report the issue.
Types Of Elder Abuses
1. Physical Abuse
- A physical elder abuse act is defined as an act that causes physical or mental injury to an older person.
- An example might include punching, pulling too hard on a senior’s limbs, slapping, kicking, biting, or kicking an older person.
- There are instances when caregivers commit sexual abuse, such as intentional touching or sexual assaults.
- There is also the possibility of abuse occurring as a result of domestic violence which refers to controlling behavior against another individual.
2. Mental Abuse
- Elder psychological abuse is commonly defined as the deliberate infliction of mental anguish, distress, or pain.
- Intimidation, screaming in anger, humiliating an elderly person, and making threats against a person of that age are all examples of these behaviors.
- Social isolation is another aspect of psychological abuse, in which seniors are kept away from their friends and relatives.
3. Financial Abuse
- Caregivers and other trusted individuals can abuse seniors financially when they steal from them.
- Individuals often do this to obtain valuables or money from older people by exploiting their relationships.
- Seniors can be taken advantage of by scammers, so family members and seniors themselves need to be aware of who to trust and how to handle money and accounts.
- Another example of elder financial abuse is elder fraud.
- The FBI warns that scammers target older adults in several ways, including by impersonating them, phishing, and lottery scams. These scams are conducted online, on the phone, or in person, by criminals.
- US consumers lost $145 million in COVID-19 scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
- A senior 80 and older averaged $655 in losses in comparison to a person who lost $300.
- A lot of fraudsters exploited the financial crisis by making false claims about vaccines, false virus treatments, false charities, etc.
4. Sexual Abuse
- Elder abuse also includes sexual assault.
- An elder is sexually abused when he or she is subjected to unwanted and sexually motivated acts.
- Seniors who are sixty years or older are more likely to be sexually abused by others.
- Further, elderly persons may also be abused if they are unable to give consent to sexual activities.
- Oftentimes, elderly individuals who are sexually abused also suffer from emotional abuse or physical abuse.
- As of now, little is known about the sexual abuse of elders, which calls for further research.
- Due largely to the fact that elder abuse victims often have more medical issues, which result in difficulty communicating, memory problems, and general confusion, there is a lack of research and understanding in this area.
- Many elder sexual abuse cases remain unreported due to these reasons.
5. Neglect of Caregiver
- Finding the right caregiver is so important because you are more likely to experience caregiver neglect than you thought.
- The problem occurs when caregivers fail to meet the emotional, social, and medical requirements of older people.
- Whether it is intentional or unintentional is irrelevant.
- Someone caring for an elderly person may refuse to bathe that person on purpose.
- Often, unintentional neglect occurs because of ignorance, immaturity, or resource shortages.
6. Self Neglect
- The elderly are sometimes neglectful of themselves.
- In some cases, patients choose not to eat, refuse to see a doctor or overdose on drugs or alcohol.
- Despite this guide’s attention to other people’s elder abuse, self-neglect also merits attention.
- Someone close to an elderly person may need to intervene if the person practices self-neglect.
- Giving elderly family members the freedom to make their own decisions is a delicate balance between comforting them and avoiding making these decisions until they become life-threatening.
Signs Of Elder Abuse
1. Physical Abuse
Here are some signs that your loved one might have been physically abused:
- Bleeding or scarring
- Bones that are broken
- Unidentified skin wounds
- A rapid succession of injuries
- Experiencing repeated injuries
2. Emotional Abuse
You can tell if a loved one is being verbally or emotionally abused by observing these signs.
- Absence of interest and apathy
- Biting, rocking, and strange behavior
- Anxiety or fear, particularly when around the caregiver
- Caregiver-elder relationships that are strained or tense
- A caregiver who snaps or yells at the elder
- Isolation by a family member/caregiver
3. Financial Abuse
If you’re worried about financial exploitation, pay attention to these signs:
- Even though the older adult finds ATM receipts and loan documents, he or she cannot recall withdrawing cash or opening a new credit line.
- One person handles all financial matters exclusively for the elderly person.
- The relative or caregiver’s spending habits have changed abruptly for no apparent reason.
- It’s hard to get bank statements on time.
- In spite of the senior’s ability to pay bills and eviction notices, he or she receives past-due bills.
- Although the senior has been using his ATM card a lot, he cannot perform all those transactions since he is housebound.
- Several belongings and money are missing from the senior’s house.
- In spite of the fact that the older adult should be able to afford quality medical care, he or she receives substandard care.
4. Sexual Abuse
The following are signs of elder sexual abuse:
- An inability to walk or sit comfortably
- An injury to the pelvis
- Bruising in the pelvis/inner thighs
- An emerging sexually transmitted disease
- Underwear or clothing is torn or bloodied
- A panic attack or anxiety attack
- Stress-related disorders (PTSD) development
- Intentions to commit suicide
- The withdrawal of emotion or social interaction from others
- Unusual or inappropriate sexual behavior
5. Neglect of Caregiver
Caregiver Neglect may be indicated by the following signs:
- Poor hygiene or bad breath is an indication.
- When you visit with the person, you notice that his or her clothing isn’t clean.
- No medical explanation has been provided for the senior’s weight loss.
- Dehydration is clearly visible in the older adult, such as dry skin or apparent confusion, as well as dirty clothing.
- Significantly worsening living conditions have been experienced by the senior.
- The senior’s skin is covered in bedsores. The presence of bedsores could indicate that the person isn’t being turned often enough, since they develop when people sit or lie in the same position for a long period of time.
6. Self Neglect
Few signs of Self Neglect:
- Refusing to seek medical attention when necessary
- Weight loss that is visible
- A sad expression on the face
- Poor hygiene, insufficient water and food, and dirty clothing
- The house is littered with empty alcohol bottles
How To Reduce Elder Abuse?
- There are many reasons why older people are abused or assaulted.
- For example, The staff of senior living communities may not be sufficient to provide all residents with the care they require.
- However, elder abuse can be reduced with a variety of measures.
1. Stay Close To Family If You Can And Have Your Elders Stay Nearby
- Those who feel isolated may fall into depression or succumb to sadness and loneliness.
- It is possible for them to believe they are unwanted, burdensome, or unknown to others.
- It is advantageous to keep your elders within reach so that you are able to assist them whenever necessary or see their need for assistance.
- In this way, abuse and neglect are less likely to occur.
2. Be Sure To Stay In Touch
- Contacting loved ones regularly will allow you to stay abreast of their daily activities and habits, and to offer them assistance if necessary.
- You may want to invest in a medical alert system so that calling for help is as easy as pressing a button.
- Additionally, you will be able to spot any changes that might signal abuse.
- Organize community events for elders
- It is natural for individuals to feel isolated as they age.
- Participating in community events keeps them connected to their interests and activities in their social lives.
3. Be Sure They're Aware Of Scams
- You should discuss common scams with your loved ones because older people are particularly susceptible to fraud.
- A lot of thieves retrieve survivors’ names from obituaries.
- Fraudsters then call them claiming they owe them money.
- Also common are impersonator scams.
- You should be on the lookout for scammers claiming to represent Medicare, charities, and lottery companies.
- Remind your senior to be aware of relatives who request money by phone or email.
- Seniors may receive a phone call from grandchildren asking for money for car repairs.
- Your contact information should be readily available for seniors.
- Share phishing scams with your older loved ones if they use email or social media.
- The elderly are less likely to be frauded if someone keeps them informed.
4. If You Know Those Around The Elderly Will Abuse Them, Do Not Allow Them To Live With Them
- It should go without saying but nonetheless deserves mention.
- Those who have repeatedly abused or violently acted may repeat their old patterns with others who are vulnerable and weak.
- Do not let these people come into contact with your elders.
5. Maintain Their Activity Level
- Every age group should be active.
- In addition to lowering depression and activating happy hormones, exercise can extend the life and reduce abuse risks in old age.
- Keep them as informed as possible about their finances.
- A family member may be entrusted with managing an older person’s finances.
- Elderly people should, however, understand where their money is going as much as possible.
- Make sure they know how you’re spending their money on things like utilities and rent.
- In order to prevent a predator from gaining unrestrained access to senior’s assets, checks and balances are crucial.
- Documents containing financial powers of attorney could be signed by several people.
6. Select The Caregivers Carefully
- There are different types of caregivers, and family members are not always the best choice.
- Balance is more important than family members or friends.
- Stressed caregivers are harmful to everyone, so create a system that eliminates the burden of all caretaking on a few people.
- Consider investing in paid professionals and monitoring the caretaker’s interaction with the elderly person if you choose to hire them. If the elder’s behavior or mood changes, keep an eye out for signs of abuse.
7. Become A Member Of A Support Group
- Seniors and caregivers who participate in support groups have the opportunity to connect with others dealing with similar issues.
- This reduces the chances of abuse happening and going unnoticed.
- When seniors have a social circle, they are less likely to be abused, and they can discuss any tensions in their lives with one another.
- A theft of an elder’s belongings, identity, or home is included in elder theft.
- 1.7 million fraud reports were filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2019, including more than 647,000 imposter scams.
- Fraud and identity theft crimes caused steep median losses for seniors, especially those aged 70 to 79 and 80 and over.
Theft By Caregiver
- The heirloom bracelet has disappeared, electronic devices cannot be located, or a wallet or bank account appears with less cash are some great signs.
- Almost everyone who’s cared for an elderly loved one knows theft is a major concern.
- It is not uncommon for caregivers to bring some relief to the home, but they may also feel as if they are making a risky move in some ways.
- The prevalence of elder caregiver theft has been difficult to measure, yet it has been significant enough to warrant concern for anyone.
1. A Receipt That Doesn’t Add Up
- In the case that a caregiver must run errands and grocery shop, mix-ups are fairly likely.
- Occasionally, you may notice that things listed on the receipt don’t seem right for your loved one, such as items that go out often and are replaced unexpectedly.
- Your loved one’s caregiver may take him or her shopping or dining at a restaurant that is out of the family’s price range when they usually frequent other stores.
2. Caregiver Frequently Stays On Call
- Taking calls or sending texts on the job is unprofessional and inconsiderate, but it could also indicate more serious issues.
- It is quite possible for caregivers to need to call occasionally for legitimate reasons.
- But if someone is constantly on the phone, this indicates more importance is being placed on some outside relationship than on caregiving.
3. Developing A Personal Connection
- Caregivers quickly become trusted friends to many seniors.
- Close bonds are common when close contact is consistent and frequent.
- You should, however, be on the lookout for anything that exceeds the requirements of professionalism.
- If your loved one seems to be emotionally or physically dependent on their caregiver, you may notice that they talk about them all the time or seem to value that relationship more than their friends and family.
- A scammer will usually gradually get an elderly target emotionally dependent by showing him or her greater and greater expressions of affection.
4. Act On Two Fronts To Protect Your Loved One From Such Thefts
- As a first step, make sure your loved one has a social outlet outside the caregiver, for example, daily activities or regular time with family and friends.
- The next step should be to grant access to your family member to monitor your finances.
- Putting daily limits on expenditures can also limit losses in the event of theft.
5. Sympathizing Bids By The Caregiver
- Danger signals include personal stories of woe.
- It’s your cue to get involved if your family member speaks of a situation he has been told about by his caregiver.
- You have no idea when your loved one will write checks to support the caregiver and he/she may disappear with the money.
- Caregivers provide professional services.
- The caregiver has crossed the line when they become involved in the personal life of your loved one too much.
6. Take Action As Soon As Possible
- Caretakers who practice scamming will count on you not questioning your loved one’s judgment if they are experienced scammers.
- Talk about the situation with the entire family, including those who are not near.
- You may want to let the agency know about your concerns if the caregiver was hired via an agency.
- Make sure to check the records of any searches performed and check that the caregiver wasn’t previously convicted or accused of exploitation or fraud.
- It would be prudent to check into the caregiver’s background if they were hired independently and there was no thorough background check performed when the hire was made.
- If you want to keep the caregiver, you can set up a more cautious monitoring arrangement where funds are limited.
- 70% of American households are headed by people older than 50.
- The fact that older adults have the money makes them vulnerable to a variety of theft schemes, not because they’re weaker or older but because the thieves know they have it.
- A person commits identity theft when they obtain money by using the personal information or accounts of another person.
- Using the person’s data and accounts, they can make purchases or withdraw funds from an account under the person’s name, receive benefits under the person’s identity or apply for benefits.
- Over two-thirds of the financial crimes perpetrated against older adults are committed by a family member or caregiver with whom the victim has relationships.
- So, make them aware of the potential threats.
1. Report Identity Theft
- Even though handling crimes against the elderly can be intimidating, there are many establishments in police departments and prosecutors’ offices that specialize in handling these crimes.
- A theft claim won’t be investigated by an insurance company unless the victim makes a police report.
- First, call the local non-emergency line of the police department and request that an officer come out to the scene.
- Older adults are often welcomed to tell their stories in familiar surroundings by these officers who are usually willing to come to their homes.
- Alternatively, you can also contact adult protective services in your county.
- Many counties have a health department responsible for this.
- There are professionals skilled in handling such cases in the department, and they can assist in getting the process started.
2. Feeling Ashamed After Having Been Victimized
- Often, when an older person decides to report the theft, they are shamed and embarrassed because they believe their own actions are in some way to blame.
- Embarrassed and taking responsibility for their mistake, they accept fault for the loss.
- There is no fault in this and they need to be told that.
- For others, it may have been too long since the crime was committed.
- Although most states still prosecute crimes years after they’ve been committed, particularly financial crimes.
- Detecting a crime by an older adult after four years can result in prosecution in California, for example.
3. An Investigation By An Official
- Police officers provide the information they collect to detectives so that they can follow up with that information.
- Documents are often needed to prove a crime was committed.
- It is possible to show a photo lineup of suspects to a victim who knows who committed the crime and ask them to identify the individual.
- Almost all of this can be accomplished without having to visit a police station.
- Depending on the crime and the resources at your disposal, investigations can last a few days or last months.
- A detective’s work is done when there is enough evidence for a prosecution.
- Once that is done, the district attorney is put in charge.
- The majority of communities have dedicated units for prosecuting crimes against the elderly.
- In cases of identity theft committed by a friend or family member, the police usually have a better chance of catching the criminal and bringing justice to light.
- Scammers or anonymous identity thieves may make this resolution less likely.
- In any case, it is important to go through the reporting process since a police report or a copy of official documents may be required when a credit bureau or financial account needs to be corrected.
4. If An Older Person Has Their Identity Stolen, And They Need To Go To Court
- Many victims find court testimony to be the most daunting aspect of their experience.
- These cases are almost always resolved with a guilty plea, so in nearly all cases, the victim will never have to appear in court.
- A jury trial is very rare in such cases.
- The court will have to hear about your friend or relative’s loss if their case is one of the few that goes to trial.
- Getting older victims to court will be the only they will have to appear.
- Before the process begins, prosecutors will typically explain what’s involved to the victim.
- A victim can also review earlier statements to police and refresh their recollection of particulars that may have been lost.
- In the case of a guilty plea or conviction, the victim can be asked if he or she wishes to participate in the sentencing process after seeing how the alleged offender pleads or is found guilty.
- A county probation department will often notify them after the crime and that agency will form a report about the crime and how it impacted the victim, and then recommend a sentence to the court.
- During the sentencing hearing, the victim can offer a statement regarding the impact of the crime on them.
5. Recovery Of Stolen Identity Victims' Money
- According to many victims, reporting a crime will ensure that their money or assets will be returned to them by the local authorities.
- Despite the fact that sometimes even it is possible but it is rarely the case, nor is it the role of local law enforcement agencies or counties to “undo” the crime.
- The person you are caring for can, however, get assistance from agencies that will help you and them comply with this requirement.
- It is often impossible to return stolen money to the victim since the perpetrator has already spent it.
- Certain scams are easier to reverse, however.
- For example, a scammer might claim that a family member died and that they received the car from the deceased, but no one can find the title, as one means of obtaining an older adult’s car.
- After the clerk has issued a new title in the thief’s name, the thief emerges with a new set of papers.
- If the title has been misplaced, a court order could mandate the department issue a new title in the owner’s name.
- In an identity theft scheme, banks and credit card agencies often refund money if funds are stolen via credit cards or forged checks.
- If an older person misses work, requires mental health counseling, or incurs medical costs due to an assault, they can sometimes be compensated as well.
- California, for instance, offers a special fund to reimburse victims’ compensation expenses.
- You might be able to find this information with your local county prosecutor
Some Other Common Frauds
- Fraud is different from both identity theft and caregiver scams.
- This usually involves seniors making an unwitting contribution to someone’s account or handing over money they don’t own by being tricked into doing it.
- Due to the anonymity of scams, it is often extremely difficult to prosecute these crimes and to reverse their damage.
- Preventive measures are extremely important for this reason.
- Some of the most common internet and phone scams targeting older adults are listed here, along with the protective measures families and older adults can take.
1. Investment Fraud
- Your colleague pitches you over lunch, or you are approached by a stranger with an unrealistic investment scheme.
- A friend or trusted leader in your church or neighborhood may be making this offer unknowingly, after falling for the scam themselves.
- These are the common ways how an adult gets tricked into an investment scam.
How to Stay Safe From These Scams?
- A quick return on investment is a dangerous strategy.
- Never believe anyone who promises you a high return in a short time.
- Do not invest in something you don’t fully understand.
- If you’re in over your head, you won’t be able to identify scams or accurately assess risk.
- A broker or investment adviser should never be taken completely at their word.
- Independent brokers appearing to act as sole agents should be avoided.
2. Ransom Frauds
- There are many phone scams targeting seniors because scammers believe that elderly people are not aware of how technology can be employed against them.
- The scammers spoof a grandchild’s phone number using technology.
- You are then expected to pay some sort of fee, often in an untraceable manner, if you wish to get to see your grandchild again.
- Hanging up and calling your grandchild’s number would result in a scammer answering as they have managed to reroute it or they may have stolen it.
- Most likely, your loved one will not answer, since the scammers timed their call to coincide with busy times.
How to Stay Safe From These Scams?
- You can make contact with your loved one in several ways.
- You can try calling their place of employment or school, sending an email, or sending a private message on social media.
- Get in touch with people who may know your loved one’s location or verify their safety.
- As an example, you should contact your grandchild’s parents if he or she is threatened.
3. Online Phishing
- Your bank or another official-sounding financial organization sends you an email notification.
- There is a message that your payment has been refunded or that your account is due.
- It also tells you that your payment failed or that your account information needs to be updated.
- The clever identity thieves are sending carefully disguised email solicitations with the aim of gaining access to your computer and stealing your personal information.
- You are asked to click on a link provided or reply with specific information.
How to Stay Safe From These Scams?
- You shouldn’t open any emails that refer to payments or other financial transactions if you are unsure.
- Verify any information by calling the institution’s customer service line separate from those provided in the email instead.
- Look at the email address so that you know it’s the real thing if you open the email.
- Pay close attention to the email’s subject line, including the grammar, font, and URL.
- You should delete it if you think it may be suspicious.
- Please do not click on links contained in this type of email.
- Open a new browser window on your desktop and visit the official website in question.
- Determine whether the URL is the same as the one shown in the link.
4. Warning Calls Fraud
- It might sound like the IRS or another official agency is calling you to request your arrest or assets to be seized, but it’s actually a recorded phone call.
- Take immediate action to resolve the problem if you do not wish to lose everything you own or even your freedom.
- In most cases, you are asked to make a payment.
- Often, these callers ask that you pay them through a gift card or wire transfer, or they ask for credit card information over the telephone.
- You are then robbed of money using that credit card information.
How To Stay Safe From These Scams?
- Be familiar with the real business practices of agencies.
- You are not contacted by the IRS or other government agencies when you have a warrant out for your arrest.
- Generally, you will be notified in writing if you owe taxes or another type of bill.
- Wire transfers or gift cards should never be used to pay your bill or taxes.
- These forms of payment are not accepted by reputable agencies.
- Hang up the phone and call the organization’s real customer service line if you’re concerned about your account.
- Inquire about your account status and explain that someone called you threateningly.
5. Medical Bills Scam
- A person steals documents from your recycling bin, takes your health insurance number over the phone, or uses other methods to get access to your personal information. They then rack up medical bills.
- Your insurance company or Medicare ends up paying out huge amounts for services you never received, while you end up with co-pays and percentages based on services you never received.
- In addition to financial loss, any other patient’s medical information can be mixed up with yours if they misused your coverage.
- In this situation, you may encounter errors and misdiagnoses, and need to manually correct your medical records.
How to Stay Safe From These Scams?
- No matter how legitimate-sounding the request may sound, don’t give your medical insurance information to anyone.
- Unless you have a 100% guarantee that your provider will receive this information.
- When you get your insurance statements and medical bills, review them carefully and call if any charges are unclear.
- Your health insurance provider should check your records if you receive calls from collection agencies about unpaid medical bills.
- You should check your insurance company’s “benefits request” statement every year as it lists all the health insurance benefits paid to you.
Well, this was a very big Definitive Guide to Elder Abuse where we tried to cover every aspect of elder abuse and methods of preventing it. Be a responsible son and daughter and take care of your elders properly. They need you the most at this time so try to spend some time with them regularly.
The above-mentioned preventions may require you to spend some money but it’s all worth it because you are insuring yourself against a very big crime which may happen.