When people think about their retirement years they envision a peaceful time in which they are able to finally dedicate themselves to their loved ones, pursue hobbies and maintain a relaxing lifestyle. Sadly this illusion is shattered for numerous seniors who are day-to-day victims of financial, physical or mental abuse. The numbers are shockingly high, as almost every tenth American citizen above 60 has experienced abuse of some sort, as stated by the National Council of Aging.
To make matters worse, not everyone turns to the police because they are afraid, oppressed or simply embarrassed. Nevertheless, experts estimate that the number of elderly abuse victims to be around two to five million per year. In order to protect seniors and provide them with the treatment that they rightfully deserve, we as a society should learn to recognize the signs of elderly abuse, as well as realize a means to help those in need.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can manifest in numerous forms: physical mistreatment, mental and emotional torment, financial ransom, neglect, abandonment and the most terrible one of all, sexual abuse. Each of them will leave a mark on the aging victim, which could be spotted by relatives, caregivers and neighbors. Physical abuse is the easiest to detect as unexplained bruises, burn marks and scars start to appear on the body. Not giving enough food and water or overdosing on the sleeping pills also belongs to this category.
Mental abuse is another frequent issue, where the oppressor might publicly yell, berate, or humiliate the aging person for no apparent reason. Sometimes these emotional attacks happen behind closed doors, but a dramatic change in the senior’s behavior can be very telling, such as if a previously social person suddenly becomes a shut-in and barely communicates with the outside world. As for sexual abuse, the biggest giveaways are erratic behaviors and bleeding genitals.
If an elderly person falls victim to financial exploitation, then their spending habits will likely change drastically. They may either start purchasing inappropriate items as gifts for a ‘friend’ or have cash flow problems so severe that they cannot even afford basic food items and the bills start to mount up. Financial abuse is often accompanied by neglect, leaving the poor senior without proper clothing. A house full of trash and a total lack of concern for hygiene are telling signs too.
What Can Be Done to Prevent It?
The best way to reduce the possibility of elder abuse is to not let them become isolated. Just because the senior wishes to age independently doesn’t mean that they must be left totally alone. Call them up frequently and if possible visit them on a regular basis. In addition, encourage them to lead an active life. Aging adults who are mentally and physically fit are less likely to give in to such abusers.
It’s also worth mentioning that many victims remain silent because they don’t have someone trustworthy enough to talk to about the issue. If they maintain an active social life by visiting the elderly community center or they have a good relationship with the neighbors or relatives, then the chance of someone noticing the signs is higher. Plus, friendly bonds might lend enough emotional strength for them to stand up for themselves.
Safety Net With a Medical Alert System
A personal emergency response system could be a highly valuable asset for seniors who face abuse. The help button is small enough to stay hidden in their pocket or even disguised as jewelry. When pushed, the medical alert operators will immediately call the owner back to check on their status. Mobile pendants come with two-way communication built into them, so the elderly person is able to call for help even if the abuser won’t allow them near the phone.
The care agents working at the headquarters of the medical alert service provider are trained professionals who are compassionate and always lend an honest ear. If necessary they will not only dispatch the paramedics but the police as well. On top of all that there are senior monitoring kits such as the Family Guardian pack from Medical Guardian that grant relatives the opportunity to keep tabs on the aging relative’s activity in a non-intrusive way.
Best Medical Alert Systems of 2019
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