The elderly suffer abuse most often at the hands of those closest to them, including family members and caregivers. Caregivers or people who have a financial stake in the elderly person’s assets may be more likely to commit elder abuse. Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect.
Elderly Abuse by Family Members
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that in 60% of cases of elder abuse or neglect, the guilty party is a member of the elderly person’s family. According to their research, two-thirds of perpetrators are grown-up children or partners. In cases where the abuser is a family member, it can be particularly challenging to address and prevent abuse.
Elder Abuse of the Elderly
It is not unusual for elders to be perpetrators of elder abuse. This is often seen in cases where an elderly person in their 80s relies on an adult child in their 60s for support.
Types of Abuse
Certain types of abuse are more likely to be committed by different types of perpetrators.
- Physical Abuse: The most likely perpetrator is a partner or a spouse.
- Neglect: Adult children are most likely to neglect their elderly parents.
- Financial abuse: Reports show 54% of perpetrators are family members, 31% are care workers, and 13% are partners and spouses.
- Sexual abuse: Unclear, but partners and acquaintances were often the culprits.
Risk Factors of Elder Abuse
According to NCOA, early 50% of elderly people with dementia experience abuse or neglect. In fact, adults with disabilities of any kind are more likely to experience physical abuse.
There are several risk factors for elder abuse, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA):
- Poor overall health and physical disability
- Mental health problems and cognitive deficits – this applies to elderly people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Financial dependence on a caregiver
- Substance abuse
- Limited social support and social isolation
- Lower socioeconomic status
- Previous exposure to trauma
- Poor relationship with the perpetrator
- Women are more likely to suffer from elder abuse than men
- Reduced access to healthcare
Risk Factors for Committing Elder Abuse
Loved ones should also keep in mind the risk factors for committing elder abuse:
- People who suffer from chronic medical conditions or poor physical health
- Perpetrators are more like to suffer from mental health conditions
- Substance abuse
- High stress and poor coping mechanisms
- History of childhood abuse
The NCEA also has established this profile for perpetrators of elder abuse:
- An average age of 45
- Likely to be unemployed
- Family history of early childhood abuse
- Living with the elderly victim
- Financial dependence on the victim
- Abusers are only slightly more likely to be male
Hospice Care Workers & Mistreatment of the Elderly
Hospice care workers are healthcare professionals who provide care and support to terminally ill patients and their families during the final stages of life. Their primary goal is to ensure the patient’s comfort and dignity and to make their remaining days as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
To prevent elder abuse in hospice care, it is important for nursing homes to have protocols in place to screen potential employees for any history of abuse or neglect. Hospice care workers should also receive thorough training on recognizing and reporting elder abuse, and they should be held accountable for any mistreatment of patients.
If you suspect elder abuse by a hospice care worker, it is crucial to report it immediately to the appropriate authorities, such as the hospice agency’s administrator, local law enforcement, or adult protective services. It is essential to take any allegations of elder abuse seriously and take action to ensure the safety and well-being of hospice patients.
What Should I Do if I Suspect Elder Abuse?
It’s important to note that elder abuse is a serious crime, and if you suspect that someone is being abused, you make a report to the authorities immediately. Call 911 if you believe someone is in immediate physical danger. You can also call your local Adult Protective Services (APS) office to report suspected abuse.