Seniors Rarely Report Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is on the rise. A 2011 government report by the GAO estimated that 14.1% of non-institutionalized seniors had been abused in some way. Family, caregivers, and acquaintances are the most likely abusers, and according to a recent article in the New York Times:
Joy Solomon, the director and managing attorney of the Weinberg Center, said abuse of the elderly could take many forms, like one spouse battering the other and a telemarketing scheme that drains someone’s retirement account. In a tough economy, she said, she has also seen more adults moving back in with their parents, or grandparents, and helping themselves to their Social Security benefits and assets.
Because seniors are not likely to report their own abuse, the Weinberg Center began training other people, like doormen in apartment buildings, to look for abuse. Anyone from attorneys, to bank tellers to nurses can spot signs of mistreatment. Depending on the situation, signs can range from bruising to medication mismanagement. Caregivers who are jealous or possessive are also signs of abuse.
According to the GAO report, seniors who are most at risk have the following characteristics:
- Cognitive impairment like dementia
- Mental impairment
- Physical impairment
- Poor social support from family and friends
Resolving abuse depends on the situation. In some cases, friends and family can intervene and remove the offending individual from the picture. Other times, it might be necessary for a court to intervene. In all cases, abuse should be reported to the appropriate authorities.