Older adults can be targets for abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Elder abuse is often unreported because victims fear speaking out. Elder abuse can happen anywhere, including at home, in nursing homes, or in the care of family members.
Older people should feel safe where they live. If you are concerned that an older family member is being abused or neglected, contact an elder abuse hotline. If you want to know more about your legal options to make sure the abuse stops, talk to an elder abuse lawyer for legal advice.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), at least one in 10 older adults living in a community for them, such as assisted living or nursing home facilities, experiences some form of abuse each year.
And the above numbers could be an undercount. Older adults can be at risk of abuse because of their living situation, health conditions, age, and finances. They may be hesitant to report abuse because they are afraid of reprisals. Some older people may have disabilities or memory conditions that make it difficult to communicate.
There are different types of elder abuse, and not all abuse is physical. Forms of elder abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
Psychological abuse is one of the most common types of abuse of older people. This can involve verbal threats, insults, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment.
It can be a difficult decision to put a loved one in a nursing home. You may be concerned about possible abuse in nursing homes. For people in an assisted living facility, abuse can come from caregivers or other residents. But elder abuse can happen anywhere. Older Americans still living at home or with family can be abused by other family members, at-home care providers, or even spouses.
There are several warning signs of elder mistreatment to look out for. If you see signs of suspected abuse, report it to an elder abuse helpline or your state’s long-term care agency. Red flags for possible abuse can include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Unusual change in financial situation
- Broken bones or bruises
- Untreated bedsores
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Poor living conditions
- Dehydration or malnutrition
If you suspect a loved one is being abused or there are warning signs of abuse, you should report it immediately. You can report elder abuse to local adult protective services or law enforcement. Victims of abuse may also have a claim against their abusers to recover financial damages for medical care, mental health care, and the costs of a safer long-term care facility. Talk to an elder law attorney for legal advice.