About 4 million older adults suffer from abuse or neglect. There are many unknown elder abuse cases for every reported one. Older adults that suffer from neglect or abuse tend to die sooner. A law in Virginia includes penalties for false neglect or abuse claims for anyone 14 and up. Most cases of elder abuse or neglect aren’t from nursing homes. Roughly 95% of older people live alone or with family.
Elder abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional or financial. Physical abuse ranges from slapping to severe beatings. Any punishments, physical restraints or inappropriate uses of medications are physical abuse. Verbal, emotional or psychological abuse ranges from insults to threats. Any time a family member or caregiver causes fear, it’s abuse. Treating an older person like a child or creating a power differential are forms of psychological abuse. Sexual abuse ranges from inappropriate touching to rape. Taking suggestive photos and forcing sexual contact with a third party also counts as sexual abuse.
Caregiver neglect includes failing to meet the physical, social or emotional needs. Nursing home neglect or neglect at home is a failure to help with activities, offer food, offer clothes or offer medications. Sometimes caregivers are in charge of finances, and failing to pay bills is a form of neglect as well. Financial abuse ranges from misusing funds to embezzlement. Exploitation includes taking money with the person’s knowledge. Older adults could create self-neglect by refusing to eat, hoarding or drug and alcohol abuse.
Signs of elder abuse and neglect
Many symptoms depend on the type of abuse, but sometimes symptoms are from an illness. Repeated unexplained injuries and grip marks are signs of physical abuse. Emotional abuse may cause uncommunicative, fearful or paranoid behavior. Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding and bruising could mean sexual abuse. Large withdrawals or circumstances not matching the person’s lifestyle are signs of financial abuse. A lack of basic hygiene or medical aids are signs of caregiver neglect.
There are penalties for anyone who abuses or neglects a vulnerable adult in Virginia. Social contact helps the older person and the caregiver lower their tension. An overworked caregiver can become frustrated with the relationship, but allowing them time off can reduce their stress.