Recognizing Signs of Elder Abuse

The Administration on Aging established the National Center on Elder Abuse in 1988 as a national resource for the compilation and distribution of information regarding elder abuse and neglect. The purpose of the center is to prevent elder abuse through information and education in every state across the country. It helps national, state, and local community organizations with their efforts to prevent and educate about elder abuse. As such, the center is encouraging people across the country to learn to recognize the signs of various types of elder abuse.

Need for Elder Abuse Recognition

With the number of seniors increasing rapidly across the United States, it is incredibly important that people learn and recognize the signs and symptoms of elder abuse. New York has one of the largest populations of seniors in the country, with almost four million people residing in the state ages sixty years old or older. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 41.4 million people age 65 or older in the United States in July 2011, up from 40.3 million in April 2010. The number of seniors is projected to reach 92 million by 2060, with 18.2 million age 85 or older.

Types of Elder Abuse

The Administration on Aging separates various types of elder abuse into five separate categories: physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, and financial. Each type of abuse comes with its own set of actions and warning signs, yet all are detrimental to seniors.

This type of abuse occurs when a person physically harms a senior. It includes hitting, kicking, slapping, tripping, pushing, burning, or other shows of force against an elderly person. Signs of physical elder abuse include:

· Bruises, black eyes, welts, marks, and lacerations · Bone fractures, open wounds, cuts, and healing injuries · Sprains and dislocations · Signs of being restrained · Sudden changes in behavior
This type of elder abuse happens when a person forces a senior to take part in a sexual act against their will or when they are unable to competently give consent. Symptoms of sexual elder abuse include:

· Bruises around genital area · Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases · Unexplained genital or anal bleeding · Torn, stained, or bloody clothing
This type of abuse refers to all types of behaviors that harm an elderly person’s self-worth or emotional well-being. It includes name calling, scarring, embarrassing, destroying personal property, or not allowing a senior to see friends and family. Signs of this type of abuse include:

· Being emotionally upset or agitated · Being extremely withdrawn or non-communicative · Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia
This type of elder abuse occurs when a person or organization fails to meet the senior’s basic needs. These include food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. Symptoms of neglect include:

· Dehydration, malnutrition, bed sores · Poor hygiene or untreated health problems · Hazardous or unsanitary living conditions
This type of abuse happens when a person illegally takes advantage of a senior’s money, property, or assets. Signs of financial abuse include:

· Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices · Inclusion of names on accounts · Unauthorized withdrawals · Abrupt changes in estate planning documents · Disappearance of valuables · Discovery of forged documents or signatures

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