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Physical abuse of the elderly is defined as using some type of physical force on an elderly person that can be expected to cause bodily harm, ongoing impairment, or physical pain. May include slapping, hitting, beating, bruising, causing someone physical pain, injury, suffering or confining an adult against his/her will, such as locking someone in a room or tying him/her to furniture.
Symptoms and signs of physical abuse include having the following:
- Broken bones
- Skull fractures
- Unexplained cuts
- Marks from ropes
- Open wounds
- Internal injuries or bleeding
- Evidence of giving too much or too little medication
- Broken eyeglasses
- Evidence of restraining devices
- The elderly person reports being slapped, hit, mistreated or kicked
- Sudden changes in the elderly person’s personality or behavior
- The refusal to have visitors see the senior alone
Misuse, mishandling or exploitation of property, possessions or assets of adults. Using another’s assets without consent, under false pretense, or through coercion and/or manipulation. This may include forging their signature, taking cash from the elder, signing the elder’s checks, coercing the elderly person to sign a document they do not understand, stealing their possessions or money, and improperly using the benefits of being their power of attorney, guardian or conservator.
Symptoms and signs of financial exploitation of the elderly include the following:
- Including the caregiver’s name on an elderly person’s bank card
- Changes in the bank account or large amounts of money withdrawn
- Changes to legal documents, such as the will
- Using the elderly person’s ATM card without permission
- The disappearance of the elder’s possessions or funds
- Giving the elder substandard care when they can afford better care
- Finding forged signatures on titles or other financial transactions
- The elderly person reporting financial exploitation
- Providing unnecessary services
- Transferring assets to someone not in the family
- The reappearance of relatives who claim rights to the senior’s possessions or affairs
Sexual abuse includes: physical force, threats or coercion to facilitate non-consensual touching, fondling, intercourse or other sexual activities. This is particularly true with vulnerable adults who are unable to give consent or comprehend the nature of these action.
Any type of sexual contact with someone who is unable to provide consent is also a form of sexual abuse. This can include unwanted touching, sexual assault, coerced nudity, sodomy, intercourse or taking pictures of the individual when they are nude.
Typical signs that an elderly person is being sexually abused include the following:
- Unexplained STDs
- Unexplained genital infections
- Bruises on the breasts or genitals
- Bleeding from the anus or vagina
- Underwear that is stained, bloody or torn
- A report by the elder that he or she is being sexually abused
Failures by individuals to support the physical, emotional and social needs of adults dependent on others for their primary care. Neglect can take the form of withholding food, medications or access to health care professionals.
It may also involve failing to care for the elder by someone who has obligations to give care to the elder. It can involve failing to pay for home healthcare services or failing to provide essential care to the patient. i.e. refusing or failing to provide the elder with the necessities of life, such as water, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, hygiene, personal safety or comfort that is required.
Symptoms and signs of neglect of the elderly include the following:
- Allowing the individual to live in unsanitary living conditions
- Allowing the individual to live with hazardous conditions like faulty wiring, lack of heat or lack of clean, running water
- Untreated bed sores
- Failing to treat health problems
- A report by the elderly person of mistreatment
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Creating emotional pain, distress or anguish through the use of threats, intimidation or humiliation. This includes insults, yelling or threats of harm and/or isolation, or non-verbal actions such as throwing objects or glaring to project fear and/or intimidation.
Symptoms and signs of emotional or psychological abuse include the following:
- Mot communicating, unresponsive or withdrawn
- The elder seems agitated or emotionally upset
- Unusual behavior that mimics dementia
- A report from the senior indicating verbal or emotional maltreatment
- Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities
- Sudden change in alertness
- Unusual depression
- Strained or tense relationships
- Frequent arguments between the caregiver and older adult
Involves seniors or adults with disabilities who fail to meet their own essential physical, psychological or social needs, which threatens their health, safety and well-being. This includes failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter and health care for one’s own needs.
Signs and symptoms of self-neglect include the following:
- Living in inadequate places or being homeless
- Failing to have or use medical aids like dentures, hearing aids and glasses
- Living in unsanitary living environments
- Living with faulty wiring, lack of plumbing or in unclean conditions