It’s not an uncommon sight to see old people feel helpless on the street. Senior citizens getting physically abused is now a growing concern.
The vulnerability of elderly people is seldom spoken about in the public domain. A huge percent of senior citizens have faced abuse in some form or the other. The abuse faced by the senior citizens is not just concentrated in the rural sectors but also in Tier1 cities yet they remain unheard.
Types Of Elder Abuses You Need To Be Aware Of
Abuse of an elderly person is not just confined to the physical form. They are various forms of abuse that the elderly go through on a daily basis. Here are some:
1. Physical Abuse
Any elderly person subjected to violence or any form of aggressive physical force is treated as physical abuse. Restricting their movements coercively or any forceful usage of drugs on them also falls under this category.
2. Emotional/ Psychological Abuse
This is the kind of abuse that involves mistreating the elderly that results in disruption of their mental peace. This kind of abuse can either be verbal or non-verbal in nature.
3. Sexual Abuse
Any form of non-consensual sexual activity with an elderly person is treated as sexual abuse. Even if the aged person is blackmailed into sexual activity, it will be treated as sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can be done by strangers as well as caregivers.
Elders are frequently exploited by their family members for financial motives, for instance, forging signatures or coercion. Strangers also tend to assault an elderly person by stealing, etc.
Many a time the elderlies are left neglected and unattained. These abuses leave them vulnerable in their own houses. Neglect is often in the form of denying financial support.
From 2006 the 15th of June is officially recognized as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The Government has taken various steps to prevent the assault of the elderly people
- Adult Protective Services (APS) Reporting
- Financial Crimes Against the Elderly Legislative Activity
- Native American Elder Justice
- Statutory Review of Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams /Information Sharing
At times it is difficult to detect the victims, or rather, the elderlies who have been subjected to some form of abuse.
It has generally been seen that in case of elderly abuse the victim hesitates to come forward for any redressal. The fear of the victim tends to be a form of retaliation from the abuser. Rest of the time if the abuser is a family member the fear of being left alone restricts them.
In case a senior citizen is suffering from some form of mental ailment, the risk of assault is pretty high. It is likely that the assaulter can take advantage of their disabilities.
The present rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought to light the dark part of society. It indicates discrimination based assault of elderly people who have been a victim of racial discrimination as well. Therefore are likely to succumb and not seek redressal.
It is rare to see an elder person being vocal about their problems. They barely rebel in their own house. Even considering talking to someone in order to gain help seems to be very rare.
What Are The Symptoms?
Often it is difficult to detect the symptoms of elderly abuse. The symptoms are confused with old age fatigue and frailty. However, there are certain changes which become evident :
- Weight loss
- Neglected and often living in isolation
- The decrease in their sanitation and environment
- Features alike dementia
- Wounds and bruises on their body
What Can You Do?
In such a scenario, if you detect any form of elder abuse; step up. You shouldn’t wait for someone else to take the initiative to help the victim. It would be better if you do not confront the victim yourself as there might be negative consequences.
In order to report any form of abuse, you can report to the following authorities. However, while reporting, there might be slight differences among authorities of different states. Yet you can approach:
- The country’s district attorney office where the suspected assault or any form of abuse had taken place.
- The State Department of Human Services
- The local sheriff’s department or the local municipal police department.
On the personal front, you can take care of them too. Try to give them a good smartphone so that they themselves can call for help if needed. You can also try to be there for them to support them through and through.
Mandated Reporter Of Elder Abuse
The anonymity of the reporter or the confidentiality of the identity differs in different states. For instance, when a report is made on good faith, then the identity of the person can remain anonymous.
In case you happen to witness or suspect such an assault, as a professional disciplinary action, one must report it. They are called mandated reporters.
Mandated Reporters often are:
The report can be done via telephone, however, the oral report should be followed by a written one.
It is mandatory in certain parts of the country to report an elder assault or one can be penalized. Once you have detected an assault or suspect a threat to life you can call at 911.
In case you would not prefer to reveal your identity, you can make an anonymous call. However, you have to inform about:
- The elder’s name, address, and contact number.
- The identity of the suspected assaulter.
- Current location
- Any known medical history
- Primary language
- The time frame of the suspected assault
One can contact the PA Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505 where the APS of that particular state handles the report. Moreover one must give proof regarding the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of seniors.
It’s Your Call
It’s time for you to be a good citizen and above all a good human being. Now that you can lend help to someone without putting your safety at stake you ought to do it.
As “Helping one person might not change your world
But it can definitely change the world for the other person”.