The rising prevalence of elder abuse and the ways elderly loved ones are abused highlight the importance of vigilance. Close monitoring is the best way to ensure that loved ones don’t become one of the estimated 5 million victims of elder abuse each year. Addressing critical gaps in monitoring and safety can help keep loved ones from becoming victims of financial, physical, or sexual abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse in the US
Nearly 5 million elderly citizens are abused each year. Nationwide, approximately 1 in every 10 people over the age of 60 have experienced some type of abuse. Just over 24% of all nursing home residents have experienced physical abuse on at least one occasion.
Data from the National Center for Victims of Crime shows that 27.4% of complaints regarding elder abuse involve physical abuse. A total of 22.1% involve resident-on-resident abuse. This includes both physical assaults and sexual assaults. In all, 7.9% of assaults involved sexual abuse.
19.4% of elder abuse complaints involve psychological abuse. This can include verbal taunts, harassment, and other actions designed to degrade and denigrate the victim.
Approximately 15.3% of complaints involve gross neglect. This can entail the failure to properly administer medication, change clothes or bedding, provide assistance with eating and hygiene, or administer medical care.
7.9% of abuse complaints involve financial exploitation. This form of abuse is particularly nefarious because it is often not discovered until the perpetrator has “blown through” a considerable amount of the individual’s life savings.
Those Most Commonly Victimized
Men and women are both at risk of elder abuse. However, women are twice as likely to suffer abuse as men. Individuals with mental impairments or those with severe physical limitations are most likely to become victims. Isolation, age, physical/mental impairment, proximity to loved ones, and socioeconomic status are all linked to greater risk.
Protecting Loved Ones
Vigilance is key to protecting loved ones from elder abuse. Children should closely monitor their elderly parents for signs of abuse. Sudden changes in mood or behavior, visible scars, the person’s demeanor around nursing home staff, and any verbal complaints are strong indications that something isn’t right. These are warning signs that should not be ignored and children should take prompt action that includes filing formal complaints and removing an elderly parent from an abusive situation.