Elder Abuse: Is My Caregiver Abusing Me?

If someone is hurting you, neglecting you, taking advantage of you, or making you feel bad about yourself, then you could be one of the nearly 2 million older adults who are victims of elder abuse. At least 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the Department of Justice.

Elder abuse most often takes place in the home where the senior livelder-abusees. It can also happen in institutional settings, and especially in long-term care facilities. There are generally few witnesses to the actual abuse, so it can be difficult to protect yourself from it. This is especially true when your abuser is a family member (of which 90% of them are).

You may think there is nothing you can do about it, especially if the perpetrator is someone who provides care for you. It’s not unusual for the abuser to be your caregiver. Nearly all elder abuse victims are dependent upon their abuser for basic needs, so this can make it especially difficult for a victim to speak up and speak out about the abuse they are experiencing. According to the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study in 2011 for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 abuse cases were unknown. However, the Adult Protective Services agencies show an increase in the trend of reporting elder abuse, which is a positive note. It is important that cases of abuse are reported.

What is Elder Abuse?

You may think you are not experiencing elder abuse. Most people accept the definition of elder abuse as the use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury or impairment. This form of abuse includes physical assaults, such as hitting or shoving, but it also includes the inappropriate use of drugs, food, restraints, or confinement. However, elder abuse also exists when someone uses emotional abuse, such as intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, blaming or scapegoating. And it can even be non-verbal, including such acts as ignoring, isolating, terrorizing, or other menacing acts. Some elders are also sexually abused. Another frequent form of abuse is financial exploitation, which can include misuse of credit cards, personal checks, online accounts, stealing of cash, household goods, and identity theft.

Financial exploitation can also come from outside sources that seem genuine. They often take the form of “prize announcements”, phony charities, investment fraud, charging for health care that hasn’t been provided, overcharging or double-billing for medical care services, and getting kickbacks for referrals to other providers or for prescribing certain drugs.

independent elderly womanElder abuse comes in many forms and all of them are inexcusable. You deserve to live your life without enduring this type situation. If you suspect that you, a friend, or family member is being abused in any way, it is important to reach out for help. Call Adult Protective Services (APS) at 888-832-3858. This is a 24-hour, toll-free number dedicated to helping adults who are victims of abuse. You can also call Home Sweet Home Care, at 757-356-0342 if you are more comfortable talking to us about the situation. In any case, please reach out to someone. Seniors who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who weren’t. Do not suffer in silence or allow a friend or family member to do so. Reach out to people who can help, because no one should suffer at the hands of an abuser. You can stop them.

If you would like to learn more about elder abuse, you can find it at the National Center of Elder Abuse.