Every year thousands of seniors living in Missouri, even Springfield, are neglected, abused and exploited. Many victims are individuals, who are old and vulnerable and rely on other individuals to handle their daily activities such as feeding, laundry, and cleaning among other basic activities. Most culprits who commit elder abuse, are people given great authority over elderly and include trusted caretakers, friends and even family members.
The term elder abuse can be defined as an intentional, knowing, or neglected action by the caregiver or any other individual that harms a vulnerable adult. Although Missouri State has passed elder abuse prevention laws, this problem has still continued to escalate as years pass by. There are various forms of elder abuse which include
This is the use of physical force that can result in body injuries, distress, acute or chronic illness, physical pain, partial or total impairment and even death. Physical abuse may involve but not limited to violent actions such as slapping, choking, beating, hitting with or without an object, pushing, pinching, biting, shaking, scratching, burning or stomping.
This involves forced sexual interaction of any kind to an old and vulnerable person. The forced interaction may include touching of private parts with an intention to cause sexual arousal.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse-
This includes behaviors which can be verbal or nonverbal intended to cause fear, mental torture, distress or anger. Such behaviors include insults, threats, isolation, and even restricting the elder person from accessing facilities such as transportation, telephone or money.
This the intentional failure by the caregiver to protect the vulnerable person or failure to meet his or her special needs such as feeding, medical care, clothing, hygiene, and shelter.
It is an improper, illegal or unauthorized use of the elder person finances and other resources for the benefit of other individuals other than the person under care. Financial abuse includes denying the elder person access to information about his or her assets as well as the use of such resources for personal gain.
The common warning signs of an elder abuse
Although the elder person may not be complaining about any form of abuse due to various reasons such as incapacitation or inflicted fear, there are tell-tale signs that such a problem exists. Some of these signs include
• Injuries such as broken bones, bruises, abrasions, pressure marks and even burns which could indicate physical abuse, mistreatment or neglect.
• Abrupt withdrawal from usual activities, unexplained depression, hypersensitivity, and fear which could have been caused by emotional abuse.
• Depression or bruises around the private areas such as genitals or breasts which could be signs of sexual abuse.
• Unexplained changes in financial status such as lack of money to buy essential items which could indicate financial exploitation or abuse.
• Aggressive behavior such as threats, fierce complaints, battling and other uses of control and power which could be signs of emotional abuse or distress
• Frequent arguments and tense relationship between the elder person and the caregiver.
How to prevent elderly abuse and neglect
There are three things that can help to prevent the abuse of elderly and vulnerable individuals which includes
• Observing and listening to their entrusted caregivers and seniors
• Talking with elder people showing signs of abuse
• Educating other individuals how to recognize abuses sign and report it.
What a concerned family member, friend or any other well-wisher can do to prevent neglect or abuse of an elder person.
• Observe keenly for any warning signs that might show whether an elder person is being abused. If you find abuses signs, report.
• Inspect the old person’s medication to determine whether the amount available is in-line with the prescription date.
• Look for any financial abuse. You can ask the elder person whether you may see credit card and bank accounts statements to check for any funds misappropriation.
• Create trust with the elder person so that he or she can be open to you
• Offer to take care for the elder person often so as to give the care a give a break to relax
How an elder person can prevent him or herself from abuse
As an elder person under the care of a trusted person, you can prevent any possible abuse by taking necessary precaution. You can start by ensuring that your legal and financial affairs are in order if they are not, get an expert to get them in order with the help of a relative or trusted friend. Also, keep in touch with your family and friends to avoid loneliness and feeling isolated. If you are being abused at your home or care facility ask a person you trust to report abuse, low standard or neglect to or abuse helpline.
Reporting elderly abuse
Although there are professionals, who are mandated by the state laws to report any elder abuse if you are the one being abused you ask a trusted relative or friend to call the helpline and report. Also if you are a concerned individual and you suspect an elder abuse or neglect do not hesitate to report.
Some seniors fail to report their abusers since they fear retaliation of their abusers and also feel that if they report their abusers, they will have no one to take care of them. In some cases, if their caregivers are their close friends or relatives they may hold back to avoid shaming them.
What happens when you report abuse of a senior?
If the abuse victim resides in his or her home, an investigator will help the victim to come up with necessary actions that will help to end the abuse. Such actions includes
• Placement in nursing or living assisted home
• Counseling the victim
• Home delivered services such as food, laundry, and other personal care
• Legal and financial assistance and protection
• Access to other community resources
However, if the abused person lives in a care facility, an investigation is initiated by the Department of Regulation and Licensure staff. The investigations are normally carried out in accordance with Missouri State laws. Normally, investigations are initiated within 24 hours after reports have been made.
The rights of an elder person who needs assisted living
A sound old person has the right to make decisions on her own. Every decision should be made with her or his consent and involvement.
Elderly persons living in a care facility has right to
• See a physician of their choice
• Medical care
• Access to facilities such as transport and communication
• Proper diet
These individuals deserve protection form would be predators. We all need to be on watch to help prevent elder abuse.