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The 7 Most Common Types of Elder Abuse

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The 7 Most Common Types of Elder Abuse

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Did you know that upwards of 5 million older adults are impacted by elder abuse in America every year? These statistics are startling, yet they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Experts believe far more cases of elder abuse never get reported to the authorities.

Are you a caregiver for an elderly person? If so, then you should learn everything you can about elderly abuse and how to prevent it. Learn everything you need to know about the most common types of elder abuse.

1. Physical Abuse

The most blatant types of abuse are physical in nature. According to the law, physical abuse happens when one person uses physical force against someone else, and that force results in impairment, pain, or bodily injury. 

Aging adults are more vulnerable to physical abuse because they’re usually not as physically strong as a younger person. Even a rough grab can cause serious bruising on an elderly adult. A fall that wouldn’t be serious for a younger person could lead to fractures in an older person.

Watch out for the following signs of physical abuse: 

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Confusion or fear
  • Resistance to visiting the doctor
  • Recurring injuries

If you suspect physical abuse is occurring, then do your best to get the person away from the situation they’re in. Consider contacting the police to start an investigation.

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2. Neglect

Another type of elder abuse is neglect. Neglect happens when an elderly person’s care provider fails or refuses to provide care or necessary services to an aging adult. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • The elder is unbathed and dirty
  • They live in an unsafe environment
  • The elderly adult has untreated physical problems
  • Sudden or unusual weight loss
  • Symptoms of dehydration
  • Missing doses of medicine regularly

Neglect comes in many forms, and it might not be intentional. For example, an adult who provides care to both children and an elderly adult may become too overwhelmed to give an adequate amount of care. Similarly, an adult who struggles with mental health issues may not be able to fully care for an aging loved one through no fault of their own. Regardless of intent, neglect can lead to significant injures or even death in an elderly adult.

3. Abandonment 

Have you ever dropped an elderly person off at someone else’s house without advance notice? While you might see this as a normal occurrence, it could also be a sign of bigger trouble. 

Abandonment happens when a care provider intentionally deserts an elderly adult who needs them. Often, an aging adult gets dropped off at a nursing home, hospital, or facility without advanced notice or any arrangement. Such actions are all considered abandonment and could result in an elderly abuse charge.

4. Emotional Abuse

Have you ever seen a TikTok or Snapchat video that shows a nurse humiliating an elderly adult in their care? These actions are not only embarrassing, but they’re also against the law.

Emotional and psychological abuse happens when one person inflicts pain, distress, fear, or other negative emotions on an aging adult on purpose. This type of abuse may come in the form of:

  • Humiliation
  • Terrorizing
  • Isolation
  • Refusing to give your loved one access to necessary resources
  • Name-calling
  • Belittling
  • Intimidating
  • Insulting
  • Threats

The signs and symptoms of emotional abuse are sometimes wrongly attributed to an elderly adult’s age. For example, you may think their fear or distress is due to their declining mental capabilities rather than suspecting that they’re getting abused. Have a serious talk with the elderly person if you suspect emotional abuse is happening. They may not even realize what’s happening to them is wrong. 

5. Sexual Abuse 

Sexual abuse can happen to individuals no matter their age or gender. Sexual abuse is defined as any forceful or unwanted sexual contact between two individuals. Here are some signs to watch out for: 

  • Pain in the genital area
  • Bruised inner thighs
  • Bleeding from the genitals
  • Panic attacks
  • New difficulties walking or sitting
  • Becoming more withdrawn
  • Bloody or stained underwear
  • Getting diagnosed with an STD

Is the elderly person in your care struggling with conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia? If so, then they can’t legally consent to any sexual act.

6. Financial Abuse 

Financial abuse occurs when one person uses an elder person’s money illegally, improperly, or without permission. Financial abuse can happen when someone else takes advantage of an older person’s fragile mental state, or it could be outright theft. Either way, it’s important to keep track of where the elderly person’s money is going. If you notice strange transactions or a sudden decrease in their bank account, then you need to start asking questions. 

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7. Self-Neglect 

Self-neglect happens when an aging adult is no longer able to take care of their own basic needs. An elderly person may be aware that they’re struggling, yet they do not make any arrangements to get the care they need. Instead, they suffer due to not being able to maintain their own hygiene, get themselves dressed, or drive themselves to doctor’s appointments. Look for the following signs of self-neglect:

  • Increasing amounts of unpaid bills
  • Lack of food or drinks in your loved one’s home
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • A lack of necessary medical supplies
  • Weight loss
  • Untreated medical issues

Don’t let their desire to remain independent override their basic needs. Instead, have a serious talk about what you can do to get them the help they need.

The Top Seven Most Common Types of Elder Abuse 

These different forms of abuse can have devastating impacts on an elderly person. From physical injuries to faster mental deterioration, they have a lot to lose. You know that an aging person is vulnerable, so you need to keep your eyes open for any signs of elder abuse.

If you are a caregiver to an aging person, it is important to be aware of the types of abuse in order to avoid any of these actions. Additionally, it is beneficial to know how to defend yourself if you are falsely accused of elder abuse. If you are facing elder abuse charges, our experienced attorneys can help. Reach out to us now to learn more.

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