Many people know the basics, but still wonder – overall, what is elder abuse? Elder abuse can be defined and identified in several ways extending well beyond the general idea of physical abuse. In fact, several forms of elder abuse entail no physical contact whatsoever. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), elder abuse can be categorized in the following ways:
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse includes any physical force resulting in pain, injury, or impairment. Physical abuse can include inappropriate restraint of a resident, battery, or assault.
- Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is similar to physical abuse in some cases, but is committed by someone intimately close to the victim, such as a partner, spouse, or close relative. In domestic violence cases, violence is used as a means of power and control over the victim.
- Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse can include any sexual contact that is non-consensual.
- Psychological Abuse: Psychological abuse can include mental or emotional trauma, such as threats, verbal conduct, humiliation, or nonverbal conduct.
- Financial Abuse/Exploitation: Financial abuse is a common problem among the elderly. Financial abuse includes any illegal or inappropriate use of the assets, resources, or funds of an elderly individual.
- Neglect: Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to fulfill his or her duty to the resident. Neglect may include inadequate nourishment, failure to maintain sanitary conditions, failure to meet mobility needs, unsafe housing, presence of vermin or insects, and many other factors.
- Abandonment: Closely related to neglect, abandonment occurs when a caregiver or custodian of an elderly individual deserts him or her, leading to vulnerability and risk of illness, injury, or death.
What to do about Elder Abuse
The signs of elder abuse can range from simple mood changes to devastating physical injuries or worse. It is critical that anyone suspecting that a friend or loved one is being abused contact local authorities and consult with an elder abuse attorney to discuss their rights and options. Abuse of anyone is never okay, and reporting suspicion can go a long way toward getting justice and protecting the lives of elderly individuals all across the U.S.