It is a tragic reality that elderly men and women are susceptible to abuse and mistreatment. This is largely because older persons can suffer from declining mental health, and they are often unfamiliar with computers, cellphones and other technologies that offer resources to report or understand abuse. They also can experience physical frailty, isolation and depression, which can affect their ability to protect themselves from ill-intentioned people.
Because our elderly loved ones can be so vulnerable to the bad actions of others, it is crucial that we take steps to protect them if they are mistreated. Below are four types of abuse that can be especially prevalent among the elderly. If you have an elderly loved one in your life, knowing what to look out for can help you protect that person.
- Sexual abuse: Any non-consensual sexual activity is abuse. If your loved one is incapable of giving consent, any sexual behaviors can be unlawful. Signs of sexual abuse might include sexually transmitted disease and/or bruising around genital areas.
- Financial abuse: Manipulating an elderly person into changing a will or signing over power of attorney can be abuse. Unlawfully accessing bank accounts or opening credit cards in his or her name can also be considered abusive.
- Physical abuse: This includes assaulting, pinching, hitting, squeezing, or restraining someone who cannot defend himself or herself. Signs can include bruises, cuts, broken bones and overmedication.
- Emotional abuse: This can be the most difficult type of abuse to identify because the scars it leaves are not visible. Emotional abuse includes neglect, abandonment, humiliation and intimidation. Signs might include withdrawal, fear of speaking openly, heightened anxiety and depression.
If you believe your loved one has been the victim of any of these forms of abuse, it is critical that you speak up and consult an attorney. Taking legal action on his or her behalf can be the only way to protect that person and ensure the abusive party is held accountable for their deplorable behavior.