It is an unfortunate fact that elder abuse is a growing problem. With a greater number of elderly individuals who require the assistance of others, there have been an increasing number of reports of abuse and neglect. How can we begin to decrease this problem that has become so prevalent in modern society? The first steps include creating greater awareness of what elder abuse is and knowing how to report abuse or neglect.
Defining Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is defined as mistreatment of elderly individuals whether through physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment. As people age, they inevitably become more frail making it increasingly difficult to stand up against abuse. Physical or mental ailments make it easier for unprincipled people to take advantage of elderly individuals.
Elder abuse can occur in nursing homes, in hospitals, at relative’s homes, and at an elderly person’s own home. Most cases take place in the home. As individuals develop mental or physical problems, they can become more difficult to live with. Unfortunately, this has often led to family members neglecting or abusing older relatives out of frustration. No matter where abuse takes place, it should be reported right away so that the elderly person can be removed from a dangerous and harmful situation.
Keep in mind that elder abuse is a broadly defined term and can include a number of offenses. The most blatant type of abuse is physical abuse, but we should also be aware of emotional abuse and neglect. In addition, strangers often take advantage of seniors through identity theft and exploitation. Many will call seniors and ask for personal information or checks for one reason or another. If you have any elderly individuals in your life, talk with them about the importance of not giving out personal information or sending money to strangers.
How to Report Elder Abuse
If you suspect that an elderly person is in danger of abuse, it is important to seek help. If the person is in immediate danger, call authorities immediately. Otherwise, try to talk with the elderly individual in a place that is separate from the abuser. They will be more likely to talk when the abuser is not around. Write down all accounts of abuse that the elderly person can recall. Take photos of bruises or any other evidence that may substantiate claims of abuse. If there are family members that the individual trusts, alert them to the problem. Call your local police department to find out who you can talk to about elder abuse claims.
Being Vigilant on Behalf of Elderly People and for Your Future
Since many elderly individuals are unable to defend themselves and may not have the mental capabilities to know when to call for help, it is up to the rest of society to look out for the elderly segment of our population. We all age and will one day become susceptible ourselves. Putting an end to the problem of elder abuse begins with each one of us looking out for elders who can no longer fend for themselves.
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