Elder abuse is a crime. It is harm done to a senior by someone he/she knows and trusts, whether a family member, visitor, social worker, doctor or nurse. It affects thousands of Americans in all cultural, social, and income groups.
Often it is not reported because the senior is afraid of revenge by the abuser or is ashamed that he cannot handle the abuse himself. He/she may be concerned with being labeled as too demanding or senile. Here are some warning signs to look for:
This can include hitting, beating, pushing, sexual assault, forcing consumption of drugs, or locking the senior in a room or house. Also look for:
- Unusual cuts, bruises, burns, and bites
- Poor personal hygiene
- Untreated bedsores
- Dirty clothing and linen
- Emotional withdrawal
This may include yelling, use of harsh works, ignoring the senior, treating the senior like a child, and not allowing the senior to speak with others. Look for:
- Fear and anxiety
- Refusal to speak in front of someone
- Certain subjects are not discussed
This may include not allowing the senior to spend money the way he/she wants, telling lies to get money or property from the senior, stealing money, jewelry, or other possessions, or forcing a senior to sell or give away property or sign a Power of Attorney. Also look for:
- Belongings are missing
- Sudden changes in the senior's will
- Signing of a Power of Attorney without discussing it with a lawyer
If your elderly relatives or friends show signs of abuse, follow these steps to help them:
- Make a note of the signs you see.
- Call the Missouri Division of Senior Services Abuse Hotline at 1-800-392-0210
- Talk to the senior and offer help. Explain that counselors from agencies can help without laying blame on anyone.
- If you suspect fraud, physical or sexual assault, theft, forgery, or forcible confinement, contact the police.
- If you think a resident of a nursing or retirement home is being mistreated by a staff member, visitor, or other resident, report it to the person in charge and follow up to be sure action is taken.