By Lori Williams
Elder abuse cases are on the rise and the pandemic is a contributing factor. Elder abuse is not just limited to physical abuse, but also includes emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect and abandonment. According to the American Psychological Association, the majority of older adults abused are female. Shockingly, the most common abuser is adult children, followed by a spouse and other family members.
What is driving this increase in elder abuse? Isolation and loss of social connection is a key risk factor, especially for seniors living alone, and for those with cognitive impairment due to dementia. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of seniors with dementia suffer from some form of abuse at the hands of their caregivers. Another problem attributed to the pandemic, is the loss of licensed and experienced caregivers. Many are leaving the workforce due to burnout and low pay. There has also been an increase in phone and internet scams. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that “the number of elder-fraud victims increased 55% between 2019 and 2020.”
How can you protect yourself, or a senior loved one from Elder Abuse?
- Awareness, education and open conversations are key.
- Potential signs of abuse, may include, unexplained bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, burns, unattended medical needs, unsanitary living conditions, poor hygiene, withdrawal from normal activities, strained or tense relationships.
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings or door-to-door offers.
- Make sure older adults are aware of scams, the most popular right now are the Romance Scam, Grandparent Scam and Government Impersonation Scam. Visit oig.ssa.gov/scam for the latest scam alerts.
If you suspect abuse, contact the appropriate authorities.
- Immediate danger, call 911
- Call the Texas Abuse Hotline at (800) 252-5400
- If you suspect abuse in a nursing home or assisted living, contact your local Long Term Care ombudsman: https://apps.hhs.texas.gov/news_info/ombudsman/
Learn more about Elder Abuse by listening to Episode #71 of the podcast “Aging in Style.” You can find it on my website www.loriwilliams-seniorsservices.com.
Lori Williams is the owner of Lori Williams-Senior Services, LLC. For help with senior housing and services, contact Lori at 214-783-1222 or www.loriwilliams-seniorservices.com. This is a FREE service for seniors. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams – the link is on the website.