Recognizing Elder Abuse

elderly man thinking( — As the American population ages, the issue of elder abuse is something of which we should all be aware. And while elder abuse is a growing problem in some segments of the population, many of us may be unaware of some of the signs that abuse may be occurring. Looking out for our elderly neighbors, friends and family members is a societal and community responsibility, so knowing some of the basics can be a helpful starting point.

What Is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or the risk of harm to a vulnerable elderly individual. The broad categories of abuse are as follows:

Physical abuse: This can pertain to the infliction (or threat of infliction) of bodily harm, including depriving an elderly person of basic needs such as food, water, or adequate clothing. Note: Even the mere threat of harm still constitutes abuse.

Sexual abuse: Sexual contact of any kind that occurs without consent is a form of sexual abuse.

Financial abuse: A very common form of elder abuse that pertains to any aspect of the elder’s finances, including the withholding of funds, extortion, exploitation and other ways in which an elder can be taken advantage of financially.