Sadly, with the advancements of modern medicine and an ever-increasing life-span, elder abuse is becoming widely recognized as an important social issue. Research into this begun to grow as programs from law-enforcement and social service agencies emerge. There are differing types of elder abuse, and their psychological implications and assessments are taken into consideration.
Physical abuse and neglect are one category of elder abuse. Physical abuse can be manifested in the actual harm or the threat to harm an elder adult. Inappropriate use of drugs and the forced implementation of medical procedures without informed consent can also constitute physical abuse. In these cases, documentation of injuries is critical, so prompt medical attention and evaluation is important. However, because the elderly can easily break bones or tear skin during commonly occurring falls, actual abuse may be hard to identify.
Neglect can take the form of self-abuse. However, cases of neglect where a responsible caregiver is involved – weight loss, bed sores, unexplained fractures, and delay in seeking treatment can and should raise questions.
Sexual abuse can include rape and other forms of non-consensual sexual contact. It can also include other types of assault such as exposure or nudity. This type of abuse can become of concern especially when non-related caregivers have access to the elder adult with minimal or no supervision.
Emotional or psychological abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal acts that result in pain, anguish, or other types of distress. Abusers of this type will often use threats or say things such as “no one cares about you” and then seek to isolate the victim. They may also withhold care in the form of hygiene, medication, and other types of care in order to extract concessions or other favors from the victim.
Financial elder abuse is on the rise. Elderly persons are prime targets for those who seek their own financial gain. This can occur through the guise of assisting the victim or in donations to charity. The resulting impoverishment can be devestating to the victim. Official estimates sums of up to $2.9 billion annually may be grossly underestimate. This is due to the fact that this type of crime is grossly underreported.
If you believe that yourself or someone else has been the victim of elder abuse, contact the offices of Schenk Smith. Our firm specializes in cases of elder abuse. Contact us today.