As many as 2 million older Americans suffer from physical or psychological abuse or neglect. Many other cases likely go unreported.
Most elder abuse takes place in the older person’s home. Often, other members of the household, adult children or paid caregivers, carry out the abuse.
Types of Abuse and Neglect:
Abuse refers to physical or emotional action taken against someone. Physical abuse includes pushing, striking, or other acts that cause harm to an elder. Emotional or psychological abuse includes verbal berating, intimidation, and threats of punishment or isolation from family members.
Neglect is failure to provide basic care. Self-neglect is when individuals fail to provide themselves with whatever is necessary to prevent physical or emotional harm or pain.
Exploitation is the improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. This can include forging signatures, cashing checks without permission, and coercing or deceiving an older person into signing a document.
Sometimes abuse can be subtle and hard to pick up. It may be part of the family’s long established communication and behavior patterns. Usually, though, it begins as the older person becomes more dependent. Ill, frail, disabled, depressed and mentally impaired seniors are at greatest risk.
Physical and Behavioral Signs of Abuse:
- Physical signs may include cuts, burns, bruises, malnutrition, sunken eyes or cheeks, soiled clothing.
- Behavioral signs may include fear, anxiety, agitation, withdrawal, depression, anger, confusion and hesitation to talk openly.
- Abandonment is desertion of a vulnerable older adult by the person responsible for the senior.
No one, regardless of age, should suffer at the hands of another person. Older adults should report abuse to the doctor, clergy person or someone else who is trusted. Help is available.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Information and Resources:
Government Reports – Several Federal Departments and Programs have collected information on elder abuse or related topics. This is a compilation of those publications.
Aging Florida.com – Work directly with state and community partners to help prevent the abuse, neglection, and exploitation of seniors.
Victim Service Center of Orange County – Providing comprehensive, compassionate, victim-focused services to meet the needs of victims of crime, including sexual violence survivors, who reside in or were victimized in Orange County, Florida.
Red Flags of Abuse – Does someone you know, a senior or adult with a disability, display any warning signs of mistreatment?
Training Resources on Elder Abuse – a searchable database of elder abuse related training materials designed for professionals, caregivers, and the community.
If you or an older adult who you know is being abused, neglected, or exploited, call the Florida Abuse Hotline at:
Do not confront the abuser.
Call 9-1-1, if there is an immediate danger.
To report fraud dial: