Written by: Anne Marie Fogarty, RGN
Everyone has the right to live without abuse or neglect, be respected, and live peacefully.
Elder abuse is a growing problem, with thousands of older people experiencing some form of abuse or neglect each year. This can include physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse, neglect, and self-neglect.
Unfortunately, elder abuse is often underreported and can go unnoticed for long periods, making it essential to raise awareness.
Types of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be physical abuse, such as hitting or slapping. Emotional abuse, such as verbal insults or threats. Sexual abuse or financial abuse, such as theft or fraud. Discriminatory abuse such as slurs, unfair treatment or forms of harassment are also types of abuse. Neglect and self-neglect are also forms of elder abuse and may involve failing to provide basic care or leaving an older person to live in unsafe or unsanitary conditions.
Certain factors can increase the risk of elder abuse, such as social isolation, cognitive impairment, and dependence on others for care. Financial exploitation can also occur, particularly when older people are targeted by scams or pressured into making inappropriate financial decisions.
Several steps can be taken to prevent elder abuse, including education and awareness-raising about the signs and symptoms of abuse and encouraging open communication and support networks for older people. It is also essential to establish appropriate legal protections and investigate allegations of abuse promptly and thoroughly.
Spot the Signs!
You might notice some of these signs in someone older who is being abused:
• They may become withdrawn and quiet
• There may be unexplained cuts, bruising, or fractures.
• Money is going missing
• They are afraid to be left alone or with someone caring for them/visiting
• They exhibit changed behaviour around someone
• Weight loss, unclean appearance, or unkempt looks
• They might become more defensive or aggressive than they normally are.
Reporting Elder Abuse
If you suspect elder abuse, there are certain steps you can take to report it and get help for the victim.
Call the police: If you believe the older person is in danger!
• Contact the local council: You can also contact the local council’s adult safeguarding team to report the abuse. They will investigate the matter and take appropriate actions to protect the elder.
• Contact a charity or helpline: There are several charities and helplines available that provide advice and support for people who are experiencing elder abuse. Some organisations you can contact include Age UK, Action on Elder Abuse, and the Silver Line.
• Talk to a healthcare professional: If you are a healthcare professional and suspect that an elder is being abused, you should report it to your manager or supervisor.
• Report to the Care Quality Commission: If the abuse happens in a care home or other care setting, you can also report it to the Care Quality Commission.
Remember, reporting elder abuse as soon as possible is vital to protect the victim and prevent further harm!
Hourglass is a UK charity focusing on the abuse and neglect of older people. Hourglass helpline is confidential and free to call for support and advice.
If you are being abused or think someone else might be, there are several services and supports across the UK, so talk to a trusted friend or family member or your health care professional, police or anyone you trust and let’s stop ALL elder abuse!