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Stop Elder Abuse

By on August 3, 2013

As babyboomers become senior citizens, their offspring are moving into caregiving roles, often sandwiched between raising a family and participating in the day-to-day care of an older parent or family member. Burnout happens and can sneak upon a person and impact one’s temperment and actions. Even well-intentioned, professional individuals who become overwhelmed can go from caregiver to abuser. It happens more than you think.

Data from a 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet, indicate one in 10 elders reported emotional, physical, or sexual mistreatment or potential neglect in the past year. Because it’s such an underreported crime, little is known about how prevalent it is in society. But consider that using drugs or alcohol, especially drinking heavily, high levels of stress, low coping resources, lack of social support, and a high emotional or financial dependence on the elder can all be factors that can lead to abuse.

If you take care of an elder here are some things you can do to prevent violence:

• Get help from friends, family, or local relief care groups
• Take a break— if only for a couple of hours
• Involve more people than just family in financial matters
• Find an adult day care program
• Seek counseling or other support if you are feeling depressed
• If you are having problems with drug or alcohol abuse, get help

And while the signs of abuse may be similar to other conditions, there are indicators that one should be sensitive to and follow up on when they are observed. Specific clues there could be a problem are:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.

Always dial 911 or local police during emergencies but you can also call a Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-677-1116. And the Administration on Aging has a National Center for Elder Abuse with great resources and information.


Some content for this article provided by the National Center for Elder Abuse and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.


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