Abuse & Neglect
One out of every nine Americans over the age of 60 may be suffering from some sort of abuse. Wisconsin averages 3,000 reports of suspected elder abuse cases each year.
Adult Protective Services (APS), assists elders and disabled adults who may be victims of abuse, neglect, self-neglect and / or financial exploitation.
Factors which increase the likelihood that someone will be the victim of elder abuse:
- Decreased physical health / mobility, dependency on others: Elders may become increasingly dependent on others for their care. Caregivers may also be dependent on the elder for financial assistance, emotional support or housing.
- Declining mental status: While dementia can increase with advanced age, decreased mental functioning is not an inevitable result of aging. Confusion and forgetfulness can also be associated with depression, grief, malnourishment, head injuries and other medical conditions that may be reversible.
- Social isolation:The death of a spouse, siblings and friends may lead to isolation. Abusers often try to isolate an elder by:
- Refusing to apply for economic aid or services.
- Resisting outside help.
- Changing social and healthcare providers frequently so that the elder’s situation is hard to assess.
- Isolation can hide the effects of physical abuse, neglect or exploitation and can also be used as a form of emotional abuse:
- Caregiver stress: the demands of caring for others can lead to caregiver burnout resulting in impatience, depression, anger and hostility, sometimes resulting in abuse. Other pressures, such as unemployment, can exacerbate caregiver stress.
- Impairment of either caregiver or elder: physical impairment, mental illness, or cognitive impairment of either the elder or the caregiver are also risk factors for abuse.
- In many instances, the abuser is financially dependent on the victim and / or has an incapacitating condition such as substance abuse, mental incapacity or physical incapacity.
Indicators of Abuse
Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse or Neglect Indicators
- Bruises, welts, fractures, rope burns, signs of hair pulling.
- Unexplained STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
- Signs of malnutrition and / or dehydration such as weight loss or dry skin.
- Soiled clothing or bed linens.
- Unexpected or unexplained health problems.
- Unexplained paranoia.
- Excessive fear.
- Insomnia, sleep deprivation, or need for excessive sleep.
- Signs of excessive drugging, lack of medication, or other misuse such as decreased alertness.
- Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills.
- Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts.
- Disparity between assets and living conditions.
- Extraordinary interest by family members or others in older person’s assets.