Opinion: Together, we can stop elder abuse

Paul Downey

By Paul Downey
CEO & President, Senior Community Centers

Elder abuse victims often live in silent desperation, fearing retaliation from their abusers. Many times, it takes the courage of a family member or loved one to take action and stop the abuse.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, “elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes (or potentially causes) harm to a vulnerable elder.” California’s most prevalent areas of elder abuse are physical and emotional abuse, financial abuse, and abuse in long-term care facilities.

Elder abuse can occur anywhere and affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, geographic locations, educational backgrounds and cultures. However, women and “older” elders are more likely to be victimized. Dementia and other mental health conditions are significant risk factors.

Elder abuse often comes with physical and behavioral warning signs. Physical warning signs may include uncombed or matted hair, malnourishment or dehydration, and unexplained bruises or scratches. An elder may display behavioral warnings signs such as becoming withdrawn, helpless, angry or frightened. Elders may become depressed or withdrawn. It is also important to watch for signs of isolation. Be suspicious if an elder is not given the opportunity to speak freely or have contact with others without the caregiver being present.

The first thing you can do to help prevent elder abuse is to be aware of the possibility of abuse. Look for warnings signs and ask others to do the same. Keep in contact with your older friends, neighbors and relatives. Maintaining consistent communication helps decrease isolation, often a risk factor for mistreatment. Report suspected mistreatment to your local law enforcement or adult protective services agency.

To report suspected abuse in the community, contact your local APS.
San Diego County Aging and Independent Services:
9335 Hazard Way, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92123
(800) 339-4661
( 858) 339-4661

For more information go to http://www.ncea.aoa.gov.

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Posted by Staff on Feb 23, 2011. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Opinion: Together, we can stop elder abuse”

  1. ladyd

    Elder Abuse is rampant in the USA. We seniors are disrepsected by so many. You wear
    glasses, your hair is grey. Worst off if you use a cane or in a wheel chair, and you have that
    blue tag on your car. Most people think we are all dumb illitrate and stupid. I often hear people
    say, I can.t stand old people. Such ignorance, they will not get old any time soon. Now that
    the Star Mickey Roney came forward, every one will pay attention. Something will be done, and i do hope so. I want to see, an Elder Abuse unit in every city, and a testing supplies for
    chemicals,just like they do for drugs. Posters in every school, from kindergarten to College,
    on the buses,trains, commercials on tv and in Libraries. Something has to be done because it's totally out of hand.

  2. SANDY BOLETCHEK

    Sad and the more money and job problems have in our difficult economy the worse the abuse especially money abuse against the elder. This is the warning of the elder experts in colleges, professors etc. We need to not be evil and put our helpless elders up as they paved the way for the younger generation. The younger generations must give them the respect they deserve keeping them free and not it is the younger generations turn to be treated they way they want to be treated as an older person in our society. They must earn this respect as we have. Sandy Boletchek

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