Elder Abuse, Fraud and Neglect
Sadly, elder abuse, neglect and exploitation are widespread societal problems that mostly go unreported. Of reported cases, seventy five percent involve women who have been victimized by a spouse, child or other relative. (State of Illinois - Department on Aging)
Broadly defined there are three basic categories of elder abuse;
- Domestic Abuse: Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of form of mistreatment of an older person by someone who has a relationship with the elder such as a family member or their caregiver.
- Institutional Abuse: Generally refers to mistreatment that occurs in residential facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living and board and care homes by those who have a legal obligation to provide elder victims with care and protection
- Self-Abuse or Self-Neglect: Generally refers to any form of mistreatment or neglect, whether willingly or unwillingly, by persons themselves.
Definitions and legal terminologies vary from state to state in regards to the types of domestic elder abuse. The types of abuse range from physical, sexual and emotional to neglect, abandonment, financial exploitation and self neglect. However, while under the care or supervision of another, elder abuse may include:
- Violation of an individuals' rights or dignity;
- Physical, verbal or mental abuse, deprivation of services necessary to maintain an individuals' physical or mental health;
- Unreasonable confinement;
- Poor quality of care regarding personal hygiene;
- Slow response to reasonable requests for assistance;
- Improper transfer or discharge from an institution or agency;
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints;
- Exploitation of an individuals' resources and assets;
- An individuals' complaint about quality of care or quality of life.
The Area On Aging (AoA) funds the National Center on Elder Abuse as a resource for public and private agencies, professionals, service providers, and individuals interested in elder abuse prevention information, training, technical assistance and research. The center can help identify the signs and symptoms if you are concerned about an elderly friend or family member.
Elder abuse can be addressed if brought to the attention the attention of proper authorities.
Although each state will vary, each state has elder abuse investigation and enforcement agencies resources including Adult Protective Services, Social Service Departments and Elder Abuse Hotlines. The National Center on Elder Abuse web site includes a state-by-state listing of statewide toll-free telephone numbers of many of these agencies.