Elder abuse: intentional mistreatment that causes harm, or creates a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder.
Experts agree that elderly women are abused at a higher rate than men. And the older the person is, the more likely she is to be abused.
Dementia also increases the risk of elder abuse. Nearly half of all people over 85 suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Who Are the Abusers?
A big majority—estimates run as high as 90 percent—of abusers are family members.
That’s a shockingly high percentage. Abusers, usually adult children, spouses, or partners, are more likely to have drug and/or alcohol problems, mental illnesses, or feel burdened by their care-giving responsibilities.
Signs of elder abuse are often missed because:
- There is a lack of training on detecting this type of abuse – especially in families.
- The elderly victim is reluctant to report the abuse for fear of retaliation, or because he doesn’t want to get the abuser in trouble.
- The elder is not physically able to report the abuse.
It’s important to remember that elder abuse happens in private homes as well, but abuse and neglect in nursing homes and long-term care facilities is still a big problem.
One survey of certified nursing assistants found that 17% of CNAs admitted to pushing, grabbing, or shoving a nursing home resident. More than half said they had yelled at a resident, and 23% had sworn at or otherwise insulted a resident.
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