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Understanding the reality of elder abuse

Elder neglect and abuse is becoming a serious issue in our society, especially as more people enter their senior years yet continue to live longer.

As the baby boomer generation ages, providing care for elderly people is becoming a serious issue in New York and across the nation. Among the problems that many families face is elder neglect or abuse. The American Psychological Association indicates that this can happen to people when in nursing homes or even in their own homes.

The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that as many as two million elderly people have been abused in some form. However, the NCEA also indicates that many abuse situations are not reported.

How you can identify potential elder abuse cases?

There are many different signs of potential cases of elder abuse or elder neglect. This is in part because there are many different types of abuse. The Administration for Community Living indicates the following as some red flags that people should take note of that could signal abuse:

  • Sudden changes in an elderly person's mood, especially when the person's mood is more sullen or depressed than before.
  • Cessation of involvement in activities that had previously been enjoyed or participated in.
  • Bruises, sores, cuts or other marks on a person's body that cannot be explained in other logical ways.

People who are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or even still in their own homes should be monitored for these and other signs.

What types of abuse are identified?

According the NCEA, elder abuse and neglect can take physical and emotional forms. In some cases, the elderly person may be aware of the abuse but that is not always the case. Financial abuse, for example, can happen without a person's knowledge and even be perpetrated by someone the elder personally knows.

Physical harm can result from rape or other forms of sexual abuse, beatings and neglect. Any of these can leave a person with bruises, welts, sores, malnutrition and more. The physical signs can indicate physical abuse directly or can be the result of other forms of abuse.

Emotional turmoil can result from sexual abuse, neglect, psychological abuse, physical abuse and neglect. When an elderly person is subject to hurtful or derogatory comments, the emotional impact cannot be underrated. Abandonment is another problem that people can encounter that has many implications for victims and families.

Families should also be aware of the potential for self-neglect if an elderly person deemed to be mentally competent chooses to refuse care.

What should people do if abuse is suspected?

New York residents who believe that an elderly person is the victim of any type of abuse should contact both an attorney and Adult Protective Services. Doing this can offer people the best advice and guidance based upon the individual situations.

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