Elderly Abuse: Recognizing and Reporting
The 2009 United States Census shows that 12.4 percent of the Illinois population was 65 years of age or older. In Illinois, an estimated 76,000 persons over age 60 suffered from elder abuse, but the state of Illinois reported receiving only 10,583 elder abuse reports during 2008. The 2008 Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Program Annual Report, Demographics reveals that of reported cases of abuse in Illinois that year: almost one in four victims are age 86 or older, the most common report received involved financial exploitation followed closely by emotional abuse, 77% of abusers were either the spouse, child, or other relative, and 70% of the victims were female. Every year, tens of thousands of elderly Americans are abused, neglected and exploited in their own homes, relatives’ homes and even in facilities responsible for their care. Many of these offenses too often go unreported. Elderly abuse is the abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elderly persons above age 60. It is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. There are many types of elder abuse: * Physical Abuse- inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means. * Sexual Abuse – non-consensual sexual contact of any kind. * Neglect – the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder. * Exploitation – the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefits. * Emotional Abuse – inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening. * Abandonment – desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person. * Self-neglect – characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety. While there are many indicators that an elderly person may be abused, one indicator does not necessarily mean that abuse is present. There are physical, financial, family & caregiver indicators, and behavioral indicators of abuse. Physical indicators include injuries that have not been properly treated; injuries incompatible with explanatory statements; cuts, lacerations, puncture wounds, bruises, welts, discoloration, especially bilateral or multiple in various stages of healing; dehydration, malnourishment or weight loss without medical explanation; pallor or poor skin hygiene; sunken eyes or cheeks; evidence of inadequate care, such as improperly treated bedsores, eye problems, retinal detachment, pulled out hair, soiled clothing or bed, left in own waste, burns by cigarettes, acids or ropes, locked in room; tied to furniture or toilet and broken bones. Financial indicators include unpaid bills when income is adequate; food, clothing and care needs not met; overcharged for rent or services; personal loans not repaid; complaints of theft of property or money, missing checks, jewelry or other valuables; power of attorney signed by confused person; suspicious changes in titles to property; caregiver overly concerned with person’s money; promises of lifelong care in exchange for assets; ATM transactions by homebound elder; utility shut-off or threats of shut-offs, large telephone bills run up by caregiver; checks for food, etc., written over amount needed and large or unusual bank transactions. Family and Caregiver indicators are indifference or hostility to client; excessive blaming of client; problems with alcohol or drugs; previous history of violence; failure to comply with care plan; social isolation of the victim; withholding of affection; conflicting accounts of incidents; and...
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