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Common Types of Elder Abuse

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Common Types of Elder Abuse


Elder abuse in the United States is growing, as the Baby Boomer generation moves into old age and into the care of others. The oldest of the Baby Boomers are in their 70s, and there were more than 43 million Americans between the ages of 60 and 74 in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As they become more frail physically, mentally and emotionally, these senior citizens become targets for opportunists to access their money or exercise needless control over their lives.


Some of the most common forms of elder abuse are financial, physical and emotional. Scam artists and even family members prey upon senior citizens with various forms of financial abuse. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggests this adds up to more than $3 billion per year. Physical abuse against an elder is compounded by the older person’s inability to protect themselves or recover from injury. Emotional abuse can be more subtle, but equally damaging.


But another type of elder abuse, less discussed but no less harmful, is sexual abuse. CNN reported on the topic following an extensive national investigation that found since the year 2000, more than 16,000 cases of elder sexual abuse were reported nationwide in long-term care facilities. Most cases involved residents only, though more than 25 percent were instances of staff members abusing residents. But the report also acknowledged that data is uneven at best, and the problem is deep and complex.


Many Abuses Go Un-Reported


The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) claims that for every reported instance of all types of elder abuse, almost 24 other cases go unreported, and even those cases of elder sexual abuse which are reported face roadblocks. Nursing homes and other elderly care facilities are often not equipped to investigate these types of allegations. Further complicating matters is the mental and emotional health of residents themselves. Many suffer from cognitive impairments that undermine the credibility of their claims. CNN’s reporting uncovered numerous cases in which the claim of elder sexual abuse was dismissed as a byproduct of dementia.


Ways to Protect Your Loved One


But there are ways you can protect yourself or a loved one from falling victim to elder sexual abuse. If you are considering long-term care facilities, use Medicare’s nursing home comparison tool to see if the home has been cited for sexual abuse in the last three years. If a loved one is already in a facility, get to know staff members and make visits at irregular times. The CANHR provides extensive guidance to help family members and friends spot signs of potential elder abuse.


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