Elder Abuse-The Hidden Crime

Elder abuse prevention

It’s called the “hidden crime” for a reason. Elder abuse, while distressingly common, usually goes unreported. Even the victims themselves aren’t likely to speak up as they’re being stripped of their independence, resources, health and dignity.

As many as one in 10 seniors have experienced elder abuse, defined as the maltreatment of an older person by a spouse, intimate partner or someone who has a special relationship with the elder. The maltreatment can include physical harm, emotional or verbal abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment and sexual abuse. It can occur anywhere, but the vast majority of cases are in private homes.

While it may not be obvious, elder abuse does leave signs. Being alert to them and acting on your suspicions may prevent or stop the victimization of an older, vulnerable adult.

Here are some common red flags:

  • Unexplained injuries or behavior
  • Fear of certain people and situations
  • Sudden decline in physical appearance
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Disappearance of possessions
  • Financial changes, including unexplained large withdrawals, the addition of others on a bankcard and unpaid bills despite adequate income
  • Unsafe living conditions

To protect yourself from abuse:

  • Stay engaged and connected to a strong network of family and friends
  • Take good care of yourself
  • Never make financial decisions under pressure
  • Assert your right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have the right to make your own decisions.
  • Trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem right
  • Ask for help if you need it