What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse refers to the intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to a vulnerable elder.
Is elder abuse found only in certain groups of people? No, elder abuse affects the elderly across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races.
Are family members ever involved in elder abuse? Yes, 90% of abusers are family members.
Is elder abuse a problem in Michigan? Yes, in Michigan it is estimated that 90,000 seniors are victimized annually.
Does elder abuse always include physical abuse? No, elder abuse can take many forms, including financial exploitation, physical/sexual abuse, psychological/emotional abuse and can also include neglect.
What is financial exploitation? Financial exploitation can include the lack of affordable amenities and comforts in an elder’s home, or may include a caregiver who is receiving excessive gifts for needed care, or has control of the older adult’s money, but is failing to provide adequately for their needs. An older adult who is being exploited financially, may also have signed property transfers through a power of attorney or will, but was unable to understand what those transactions meant.
What is physical abuse? Physical abuse can include unexplained sexually transmitted diseases, or fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, or burns.
What are examples of emotional abuse? Signs of emotional abuse can include withdrawal from normal activities or unexplained changes in alertness. The caregiver may isolate the older adult and prevent anyone from seeing or speaking to them. The caregiver may also be uncaring, controlling, or verbally aggressive.
What is neglect? Neglect may include the lack of food, clothing, and basic hygiene, and the lack of medical aids such as walker, glasses, dentures, hearing aids, or medications. The older adult may also have dementia and been left unsupervised, or been confined to bed and left without care. Elder abuse may include pressure ulcers or untreated bed sores, and the home may be cluttered, dirty, or in disrepair. The home may also lack adequate facilities such as stove, refrigerator, heating, cooling, plumbing, and electricity.
Where does elder abuse usually occur? Elder abuse can occur anywhere- in a person’s own home, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or even in a hospital.
Who is usually at risk for elder abuse? Those most often at risk are women, older adults over 80 years old, or individuals who are withdrawn, homebound, socially isolated, or in poor physical health. Also at risk are older adults who may have dementia, mental health issues, or substance abuse issues. An at-risk older adult may also have exposure to a perpetrator who also has mental health or substance abuse issues.
If I think an older adult is being abused, what should I do? If you or someone you know is the victim of a financial scam or fraud, call your local law enforcement agency. If you suspect elder abuse – report it. In Michigan, you can call 1-855-444-3911 to report elder abuse. Your call is confidential and may be referred to Adult Protective Services.
If my group or organization would like to know more, how do I schedule a presentation on elder abuse? You can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.protectkentseniors.org/presenters for more information.
Where can I look for more information on elder abuse and financial fraud?
To learn more about elder abuse and financial fraud, you can go to the following websites:
- Kent County Elder Abuse Coalition: www.protectkentseniors.org
- National Center on Elder Abuse: https://ncea.acl.gov
- State of Michigan Attorney General: http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-164-18156_68065---,00.html
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority: https://www.saveandinvest.org/protect-your-money
- The National Center for Victims of Crime: http://www.victimsofcrime.org
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/older-americans