What does elder abuse look like?

Pittsburgh residents with aging relatives should become educated about the many forms that elder abuse takes in order to guard against it.

Caring for elderly relatives can involve many things depending upon each person's needs, abilities and health. When special help is needed, solutions like hiring in-home care or even moving a person into an assisted living facility or nursing home may be discussed. Family members want to make sure their loved ones receive the best care possible. Concerns about elder abuse or neglect are too common anymore and leave people wondering how to prevent these situations.

With diminished physical or mental health, elderly people can be particularly vulnerable to neglect or abuse and have little ability to correct or stop it. To make matters worse, the American Psychological Association notes that people can suffer this abuse at the hands of their own relatives sometimes in addition to caregivers at home or in a nursing facility.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, up to two million people have suffered from some form of elder abuse. Sadly, many cases are never even reported. Understanding the different types of abuse that can befall an elder is important for anyone who has an elderly relative or works with them.

Different types of neglect or abuse of elders

The NCEA explains that the abuse or neglect of an older person can come in many forms. Seven distinct types are described as follows:

  • Sexual abuse can include things such as rape or being shown materials that are sexually explicit. There are often physical clues such as bruises that may often be in the genital region.
  • Physical abuse involves harm invoked with intention. It can impact any part of the victim's body.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse can take the form of humiliating statements, threats or other comments intended to be hurtful.
  • Abandonment is the desertion of an elderly person by someone who has been identified as the one responsible for taking care of the elder.
  • Neglect is the lack of appropriate care to the elderly person by someone responsible for the care.
  • Financial abuse occurs when an older person's bank accounts or other assets are obtained by someone else. This can be done by someone they know such as in a sweetheart scam or by a stranger.

Another type of problem is self-neglect. This is the result of the elderly person refusing help or not abiding by the recommended guidelines of a physician or other provider.


How can elder abuse be identified?

Some types of elder abuse and neglect are more obvious than others. According to the Administration for Community Living, anyone who notices sudden mood shifts, lack of involvement in activities that were previously enjoyed or unexplained physical marks should take note.

Concerns about elder neglect or abuse should be reported to the Adult Protective Services department in the area where the elderly person lives. In addition, people in Pennsylvania with these concerns should talk to an attorney to get further information about how to proceed and to best protect the victim.